Facebook which has now rebranded to Meta is moving away from automatic facial recognition. The company has made it public that it’s shutting down the Face Recognition system on Facebook in the “coming weeks.
The implication of this development is that you’ll no longer be automatically recognized in photos if you opted into the feature, and the Facebook team will delete the facial recognition templates that it uses for identification.
The company wrote on its website that;
- We’re shutting down the Face Recognition system on Facebook. People who’ve opted in will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos and we will delete more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates.
- This change will also impact Automatic Alt Text (AAT), which creates image descriptions for blind and visually-impaired people. After this change, AAT descriptions will no longer include the names of people recognized in photos but will function normally otherwise.
- We need to weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.
Jerome Pesenti, who is the vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wrote in a blog post that;
“Regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”
Critics believed that facial recognition which is popular among retailers, hospitals, and other businesses for security purposes – could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance. IBM has permanently ended facial recognition product sales, and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) have suspended sales to police indefinitely.
It might also interest you to know that more than one-third of Facebook’s daily active users had opted into Face Recognition scanning, and over a billion face recognition profiles will be deleted as part of the change to be made.
Ending the use of our existing Face Recognition system means the services it enables will be removed over the coming weeks, as will the setting allowing people to opt into the system.
This will lead to a number of changes:
- Our technology will no longer automatically recognize if people’s faces appear in Memories, photos or videos.
- People will no longer be able to turn on face recognition for suggested tagging or see a suggested tag with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. We’ll still encourage people to tag posts manually, to help you and your friends know who is in a photo or video.
- This change will also impact Automatic Alt Text (AAT), a technology used to create image descriptions for people who are blind or visually impaired. AAT currently identifies people in about 4% of photos. After the change, AAT will still be able to recognize how many people are in a photo, but will no longer attempt to identify who each person is using facial recognition. Otherwise, AAT will continue to function normally, and we’ll work closely with the blind and visually impaired community on technologies to continually improve AAT. You can learn more about what these changes mean for people who use AAT on the Facebook Accessibility page.
- If you have opted into our Face Recognition setting, we will delete the template used to identify you. If you have the face recognition setting turned off, there is no template to delete and there will be no change.
This change will be made in the coming weeks and the face recognition feature will be completely erased.