Facebook announced that they will no longer use the Face Recognition system on their platform and will be deleting over 1 billion people’s facial recognition profiles.
Facebook’s Face Recognition system was introduced in 2010 and it analyzes photos taken of tagged users and associated users’ profile photos to build a unique identifier or template. This template is then used to identify users in uploaded photos or automatically tag people in Memories.
A week after Facebook was rebranded as Meta, the tech giant announced that they are doing away with the Face Recognition feature and deleting all profile templates created by the system. The shutdown is expected to take place over the coming weeks.
Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence stated that the many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole.
There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use. The company believes that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.
Some of the Facebook features that will no longer work as expected include:
If people’s faces appear in Memories, photos or videos, it won’t be automatically recognized.
Users cannot turn on face recognition for suggested tagging or see a suggested tag with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. However, people can tag posts manually, to help their 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.
If the users have opted Face Recognition setting, the company will delete the template used to identify them. If the face recognition setting is turned off, there is no template to delete and there will be no change.