29 October 2021
Meta has announced that it will shut down Facebook's widely used Face Recognition System in the coming weeks. It will also delete data of more than 1 billion saved faces templates used for recognition. This means if you are one of those who have opted in for the feature will not get identified automatically in photos and videos.
The reason behind the move is said to be limiting the usage of facial recognition across various Meta products. This is not surprising as the company has found itself in various legal battles surrounding user privacy. In this particular context, it was accused of violating Illinois’ biometric privacy law which resulted in Facebook agreeing to pay $650 million for settlement.
The post reveals that about one-third of Facebook's users have opted-in for facial recognition-related features. The deletion means that users will not get alerts when they will appear in photos/videos shared by others. Similarly, it will not suggest people to tag while uploading a photo or video. Its automated alt-text system for blind users will also stop working.
It is important to note that the announcement does not mean Meta is bidding farewell to facial recognition tech forever. It surely has intentions to use it and power as many of its products and services as possible. It is simply taking a step back to ensure that it does not run into any more issues or legal troubles.
Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Facebook said,
"Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation. We believe facial recognition can help for products like these with privacy, transparency and control in place, so you decide if and how your face is used. We will continue working on these technologies and engaging outside experts."