Facebook on Tuesday announced it will be putting an end to its facial recognition system amid growing concern from users and regulators.
Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta said the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the technology “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”
The social network, whose parent company is now named Meta, said it will delete more than 1 billion people’s individual facial recognition templates as a result of this change.
The company said in a blog post that more than a third of Facebook’s daily active users, or over 600 million accounts, had opted into the use of the face recognition technology.
Facial-recognition technology, which has advanced in accuracy and power in recent years, has increasingly been the focus of debate because of how it can be misused by governments, law enforcement and companies. In China, authorities use the capabilities to track and control the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim minority. In the United States, law enforcement has turned to the software to aid policing, leading to fears of overreach and mistaken arrests. Some cities and states have banned or limited the technology to prevent potential abuse.
Facebook’s about-face follows its Thursday announcement that it was renaming itself Meta in order to focus on building technology for what it envisions as the next iteration of the internet – the “metaverse”.
The company is also facing perhaps its biggest public relation crisis to date after leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that it has known about the harms its products cause and often did little or nothing to mitigate them.
(With inputs from agencies)