Facebook stops using face recognition software due to privacy issues

Facebook have said they plan to stop using face recognition software that can automatically recognize people on photos and videos posted on the social network, marking a massive shift both for the technology industry and for a company that is known for collecting huge amounts of data about its billions of users.

Facebook, which changed its company name to Meta last week, also said today (AEDT) that it plans to delete the data it had collected through its use of this software, which is associated with more than a billion people’s faces.

The move, announced in a blog posts authored by Vice President of Artificial Intelligence, Jerome Pesenti, comes while the company is being thoroughly investigated for the potential damage from its real-world social platforms in the wake of a whistleblowers leak of hundreds of internal documents.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the company’s new name, Meta, during a virtual event (AP)

Sir. Pesenti wrote that the world’s largest social network will close its face recognition system in the coming weeks “as part of a company-wide movement to limit the use of face recognition in our products”.

However, Facebook will still be working on face recognition technology and may use it in its products – from social networks to a futuristic pair of eyeglasses – in the future.

“Looking ahead, we still see face recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example for people who need to confirm their identity or to prevent fraud and imitation,” Mr Pesenti wrote.

In his speech, Mr Pesenti pointed to concerns about the suitability of the technology, which have been explored as it is increasingly used, but at least barely regulated in the United States.

“We need to weigh the positive use cases for face recognition against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have not yet provided clear rules,” Mr Pesenti wrote.

A computer with an automatic face recognition system shows German commuters at the Suedkreuz train station in Berlin.
Facebook has acknowledged ‘growing societal concerns’ about the use of face recognition technology. (AP)

The move to both stop using the software and delete the data related to existing users of the feature marks a face for Facebook, which has been a major user and advocate for the technology.

For years, the social network has allowed people to choose a face recognition option that will automatically tag them in photos and videos.

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Pesenti wrote that more than a third of the company’s daily active users had signed up for the option – or more than 643 million people, as Facebook had 1.93 billion daily active users in the third quarter of 2021.

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