Facebook to shut down facial recognition system

Facebook to shut down facial recognition system
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Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system, and will delete more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates, the company said Tuesday. 

Meta, the new name of Facebook’s parent company, said the decision was made due to “growing concerns” about the use of facial recognition 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. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate,” Jerome Pesenti, Facebook's vice president of artificial intelligence, said in a blog post

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Facebook’s Face Recognition system will be shut down in the “coming weeks” as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in its products, Pesenti said. 

Facebook will also delete the templates for the more than a billion people, more than a third of the platform’s daily active users, who opted into the Face Recognition setting, according to the blog post. 

Facebook’s facial recognition technology was used to allow users the option to be automatically notified when they appear in photos or videos posted by others and suggest users to “tag” in photos and videos they post. Those features will no longer be available as part of the update. 

The change will also impact Facebook’s Automatic Alt Text technology that is used to create image descriptions for people who are blind or visually impaired. After the change, the feature will still be able to recognize how many people are in a photo, but it will no longer attempt to identify each person in the photo with facial recognition, according to the blog post. 

But the company signaled facial recognition technology may be used in its products in the future. 

“Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation. We believe facial recognition can help for products like these with privacy, transparency and control in place, so you decide if and how your face is used. We will continue working on these technologies and engaging outside experts,” Pesenti said. 

The company said for “potential future applications” of facial technologies, it will “continue to be public about intended use.”