More than a billion Facebook users who had opted in the platform’s face recognition system will no longer be able to use the feature. Meta, the Company, which owns Facebook, announced on Tuesday it will shut down the system and delete the data of people using the feature in the coming weeks.
“In the coming weeks, we will shut down the face recognition system on Facebook as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in our products.
“As part of this change, people who have opted into our Face Recognition setting will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos, and we will delete the facial recognition template used to identify them,” Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence said in a blog post posted on the Company’s website.
According to Pesenti, Facebook acted because of concerns raised about the feature’s impact on users and the lack of a clear regulatory guideline on its use.
He stated that the approach the Company had chosen involved some difficult trade-offs as the feature was beneficial to users. “Making this change required careful consideration because we have seen a number of places where face recognition can be highly valued by people using platforms. For example, our award-winning automatic alt text system, that uses advanced AI to generate descriptions of images for people who are blind and visually impaired, uses the Face Recognition system to tell them when they or one of their friends is in an image” he said.
Pesenti added that despite privacy concerns, the face recognition feature was crucial as it could, “help people gain access to a locked account, verify their identity in financial products or unlock a personal device,”
The Company, which recently changed its name to Meta has been embroiled in controversial scandals some stemming from its former employees.
Frances Haugen, the former project manager who left Facebook leaked the company research, which showed how the platform spreads misinformation, incites violence, fuels suicidal thoughts, and contributes to negative body images among teenage girls through Instagram.