Facebook to scrap facial recognition system
Meta has announced it will shut down Facebook's facial recognition system "in the coming weeks". The social network will also remove individual biometric identification templates for more than a billion people.
The platform will stop offering to tag a person when they post new images. The social network will also stop sending notifications to users when someone posts a photo or video of them.
The company made the decision in the wake of "growing concerns" about the wider use of facial recognition, including the lack of regulation of the technology.
With continued uncertainty, we believe it is appropriate to limit the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of uses, Jerome Pesenti, the company's vice president of artificial intelligence.
According to him, facial recognition can still be useful in some situations, such as gaining access to a locked account. However, the company felt a privacy-focused approach was more appropriate than a "broad outbound strategy".
Every new technology brings both benefits and concerns from the public. We will try to find the right balance, Pesenti said.
The changes will also affect the automatic image description system for the visually impaired. It will no longer include the names of people detected in photos.
Facebook's facial recognition system was introduced in 2011. It was used by the social network to analyse images and identify people in them without their consent. According to Pesenti, numerous complaints from users about it also influenced the company's decision to limit its use of the technology.
Earlier, Facebook carried out a major rebranding, renaming the company to Meta. At the same time, the social network retained its previous name. The rebranding came amid a scandal involving a leak of the company's internal documentation.
In October, former Facebook employee Frances Hogen told the US Senate that the social network was using algorithms to incite hatred for profit.
A week later, the company's vice president of global communications Nick Clegg said the corporation was prepared to open up access to AI models to regulators to prove they were harmless.
In mid-October, it emerged that Facebook's algorithms were only removing a fraction of content that violated the platform's rules.