Meta announced that it will disable the facial recognition system on Facebook. A measure that will be implemented in the coming weeks and that will mean that the facial recognition template data of more than one billion users will be deleted.
As mentioned by the Meta team, this represents more than a third of Facebook’s daily active users who have activated this feature.
One of the configuration options that Facebook has is the one that activates facial recognition. When the user enables this option on their account, Facebook creates an individual facial recognition template to identify whether they appear in certain videos and photos.
A dynamic that will no longer be implemented on Facebook, as announced by the Meta team:
People who have opted in will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos and we will remove more than 1 billion individual facial recognition templates. […] We need to weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition against growing social concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules
So facial recognition algorithms will no longer be used to automatically recognize users in different content, nor for tag suggestions.
The Meta team mentions that one of the sections of Facebook that will also see changes due to the removal of the facial recognition system is image descriptions for visually impaired people. The descriptions generated by the Automatic Alternative Text (AAT) system will no longer include the names of users who are recognized in photos.
This change will represent one of the biggest shifts in the use of facial recognition in the history of the technology. More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted in to our facial recognition settings and can be recognized.
This move by Meta does not mean that they are no longer interested in facial recognition technology. In the statement they mention its potential and the multiple uses of this technology, but they also take into account the concerns that revolve around it.