Facebook confirms it’s closing facial recognition program

Facebook has confirmed that it’s shutting down its facial recognition system.

The social network, now owned by renamed parent company Meta, also revealed that it will delete data of more than one billion users. Those who had previously opted into facial recognition on the platform will no longer be recognized in photos and videos, and all of their templates and data will be deleted, the company confirmed.

Facebook VP of Artificial Intelligence Jerome Pesenti said that the company was deleting its facial recognition arm because it needed to “weigh the positive use cases”, adding regulators hadn’t yet provided clear rules.

Facebook first added facial recognition features back in 2011, with more than 500 million people automatically being enrolled in the program. The idea was to allow the social network to automatically recognize users and tag them in photos and videos. Facebook then rolled out an improved feature in 2017, and an option to opt-out.

Although the feature will shut down, the company has confirmed it will continue to work on new facial recognition technologies. “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,” the company said. “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.”

However, the company said that society had “many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology,” and added 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.”

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