Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system and removing one billion facial fingerprints, parent company Meta said in a statement. It comes at a time when Facebook has been facing serious allegations of breach of privacy with internal documents leaked to journalists, lawmakers and US regulators.
However, it is not clear when these changes will take effect. According to reports, more than a third of active Facebook users daily had chosen the facial recognition feature, which is around 640 million people. Facebook introduced facial recognition more than a decade ago. However, it gradually eased out of the facility as it faced scrutiny from courts and regulators.
“This change will represent one of the biggest changes in the use of facial recognition in the history of technology,” said Jerome Pecenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company Meta.
Currently, Facebook is facing perhaps one of its biggest woes of all time, when leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Hogen revealed that the company is aware of the pitfalls of its products and often tries to mitigate them. For little or nothing.
For many years, Facebook gave people the option to be automatically notified when they appeared in photos or videos posted by others and provided recommendations for tagging in photos. These features are also powered by the face recognition system which is taking off. Facebook had already stopped automatically recognizing people in photos in 2019.
Meta said they will still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for helping people verify their identity or prevent fraud and impersonation. “We believe facial recognition can help with privacy, transparency and control for products like this, so you decide whether your face is used,” Meta said.