Facebook to shut down its facial recognition program

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Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it will shutdown its face recognition system. As a result, the Facebook services that rely on its face recognition system will be removed in the coming weeks.

According to the announcement Facebook (sorry Meta) has made this decision to satisfy the growing concern from users and regulators.

The company has disclosed in a blog post that as a result it will be deleting more than one billion people’s individual facial recognition templates. According to the post, more than a third of the daily active users on Facebook (which is over 600 million accounts) had opted into use its face recognition technology.

The social platform, whose parent company is now named Meta, after the removal of the said system, will no longer be automatically recognizing people’s faces in photos or videos.

The post included that the change will also impact the automatic alt text technology that the company uses to describe images for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Meta said that the Facebook services that rely on the face recognition systems will be removed over the course of time.

Following is the quote from the post what describes the reason of the move.

There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate. Ending the use of the face recognition system is part of a company-wide move away from this kind of broad identification.

It won’t be fully dead anyway as the company has clarified that it will still use facial recognition technology for instances where people need to verify their identity or to prevent fraud and impersonation.

It is worth mentioning that Facebook may have decided to shutdown the facial recognition program after the bombardment of news reports over the past several month since Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee that became a whistleblower, released a valuable internal documents of the company to news outlets, lawmakers and regulators.

It’s not that Facebook is not aware of the harms its apps and services cause, it is indeed. It just doesn’t fix the issues or even tries to do that.

Facebook didn’t built it from scratch. It aacquired an Israeli start-up face.com in 2012 that focused on facial recognition for mobile apps. It was just months after Facebook acquired Instagram.

The company, last year, agreed to pay a $650 million settlement after it was sued for collecting and storing biometric data without taking the user consent, violating the law that prohibits the action by the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.

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