Meta, the parent company of Facebook, announced that Facebook will shut down its Face Recognition system. It will also delete facial data from more than 1 Billion users.
Face Recognition users who have opted in will not be recognized automatically in photos or videos. Facial recognition templates will also be deleted.
Jerome Pesenti (Facebook VP of Artificial Intelligence), stated that Facebook is making this adjustment because it has to balance the positive use cases to facial recognition against growing social concerns. Regulators "have not yet provided clear rules."
Facebook has had facial recognition since 2011. The feature was available for over 500 million users at the time it launched. This option was called Tag Recognition at that time and it was used to identify Facebook users in photos or videos uploaded by other users. It tags all people in the photo.
The launch of this feature raised privacy concerns that have remained to this day. Facebook introduced an expanded Face Recognition feature in December 2017. There was also an opt-out option.
Facebook claims that facial recognition is enabled for more than a third (33%) of daily active Facebook users. This change requires "careful consideration." It will also disable the Automatic Alt Text feature that provided blind users with names and photos.
Facebook will continue to develop facial recognition technologies, even though Face Recognition is closing down in its current form.
We see facial recognition technology being a powerful tool in the future. It can be used to verify identity or prevent fraud and impersonation. Facial recognition technology can be used to create products that are transparent, private, and controlled. This allows you to decide whether and how your face will be used. These technologies will be developed further and we will engage outside experts. However, there are many instances where facial recognition is useful. There are growing concerns about the technology's overall use. Many questions remain about facial recognition technology's place in society. Regulators are still working to establish clear rules for its use. We believe it is sensible to limit facial recognition's use to a limited number of cases in light of this uncertainty.
Officially, Face Recognition and all its features will be removed "over the next weeks." People who are disabled will not be recognized in photos and will not see suggested tags.