Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, shocked viewers on Tuesday when it announced it would shut down its facial recognition system and remove facial prints from more than a billion people, citing concerns from the technology for society.
As a result of this change, it will no longer automatically recognize people’s faces in photos or videos, a decision that will have huge implications.
Users will also no longer be able to face recognition to suggest a tag for a person in a photo or video. Users will still have the option to mark posts manually.
The announcement is the company’s second move – after last month’s name change – as it seeks to rehabilitate itself after a string of privacy scandals.
More than a third of Facebook’s 1.93 billion daily active users – or roughly 640 million – have opted for the facial recognition setting and the end of the system will have an impact on them.
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has announced that it will shut down its facial recognition system and remove facial prints from more than a billion people.
The company cited the concerns that facial recognition has on society by taking the plunge.
“This change will represent one of the most significant changes in the use of facial recognition in the history of the technology,” said a blog post by Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for the news. Facebook’s parent company, Meta.
“More than a third of daily active Facebook users have opted for our facial recognition setting and can be recognized, and its removal will result in the removal of over a billion individual facial recognition models. “
It’s unclear exactly how much money Meta spent on facial recognition technology, but the company bought Face.com for less than $ 100 million in 2012, according to TechCrunch.
In 2016, he acquired a company known as FacioMetrics, which specializes in machine learning algorithms to enable phones to scan faces for an undisclosed amount.
Earlier this year, the company settled a lawsuit over the use of its facial recognition technology for $ 650 million after users claimed to have created and stored facial scans without their permission.
Around 640 million daily active users have opted for the setting. As a result of the change, it will no longer automatically recognize people’s faces in photos or videos.Users will also no longer be able to suggest a tag for a person and the system it uses for the blind and visually impaired will also be impacted
“There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society and regulators are still providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” Pesenti added.
“Amid this lingering uncertainty, we believe it is appropriate to limit the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases. “
The company said facial recognition can be “especially valuable” when the technology works privately on a person’s own devices, similar to what Apple does with its FaceID unlock technology.
“We believe this has the potential to enable positive use cases in the future that maintain confidentiality, control and transparency, and it’s an approach we will continue to explore as we consider how our futures IT platforms and devices can better meet people’s needs, ”Pesenti added in the post.
In February, the company (then known as Facebook) was considering using facial recognition in its smart glasses due out in 2022, but employees were concerned about the controversial technology.
The company cited the concerns facial recognition has on society by taking the step
“For potential future applications of technologies like this, we will continue to be public about intended use, how people can control these systems and their personal data, and how we are adhering to our responsible innovation framework.
The company had already reduced its use of facial recognition after introducing it more than a decade ago.
In 2019, the company (then known as Facebook) ended its practice of using facial recognition software to identify users’ friends in uploaded photos and automatically suggest that they “tag” them. Facebook was sued in Illinois for the tag suggestion feature.
The announcement comes just days after Facebook rebranded itself as Meta as it seeks to move away from criticism the moniker has generated for the company, its employees and executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Meta refers to “metaverse,” Zuckerberg’s vision for the company’s transition to shared augmented reality, where uses work and play in virtual world environments.
The company is in deep crisis after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents and made explosive claims that she “puts profits before people” by knowingly hurting teens with its content and stoking the anger of users.
Haugen, a former product manager at the company, left tens of thousands of confidential documents with Meta which she secretly copied and released to about two dozen media outlets.
Last month it was revealed how researchers at Meta are said to have had in-depth knowledge of the fact that the coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine misinformation existed on the company’s apps, but didn’t do much. to fight it let alone share information with the White House.
The documents presented by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen show how several studies were conducted, yielding a number of figures detailing the types of users most likely to share fake news.
Lawmakers, academics and the White House have urged Meta to share this information publicly.
WHAT WAS FACEBOOK FACIAL RECOGNITION FOR?
Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has said it will shut down its facial recognition system, citing concerns about its impact on society.
As a result of this change, it will no longer automatically recognize people’s faces in photos or videos.
The facial recognition models of over a billion people will be scrapped.
Users will also no longer be able to use facial recognition to suggest a tag for someone in a photo or video. People will still have the option to tag posts manually.
In addition, the automatic alt text system that it uses for the blind and visually impaired will also be impacted by the move, as it uses the facial recognition system.