Facebook Bows Down To Privacy: Deletes 1 Billion Facial Profiles, Ends Entire System


It took the step amidst growing uncertainties regarding its use.

Facebook will no longer use its facial recognition system which would automatically recognize users in photos and videos.

It took the step amidst growing uncertainties regarding its use.

Its application will now be limited to “a narrow set of use cases”, says Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook.

Major Issues

Facial recognition technology is used by retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes.

But there is a dark side to it- privacy is compromised and there is potential for its abuse to target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance.

It is also plagued with accuracy issues, such as higher cases of misidentification of people with darker skin compared to Caucasian faces.

Helping Police Track People

Another issue was the creation of unique faceprints of people without their consent.

It would be used to power systems that would track people- a dangerous implication.

Other companies have already stopped selling facial recognition products such as IBM, Microsoft and Amazon.

The latter two sold facial recognition products to police.

Ulterior Motives?

Facebook is already in a major controversy regarding user safety and abuses on its platforms.

The rebranding of the company to Meta Platforms Inc is being seen as a distraction tactic by many.

Abandoning facial recognition technology could also be a way to please regulators, industry peers and potential users whose approval it needs for the newly branded company’s metaverse project to succeed.

Billion Faceprints Deleted

It said that over a third of its daily active users have voluntarily selected the face recognition setting on the site.

The option would enable notifications if the user’s face has been identified on an image posted by someone else.

Its latest move will delete the “facial recognition templates” of more than 1 billion people.

Effect On Image Alt Text

Another effect of the change will be the omission of names of people recognized in photos in the image descriptions for visually impaired people.

The technology will remain in use for helping gain users access to their locked accounts or unlock a personal device.

The global rollout is expected to conclude by December.

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