Face recognition technology on Facebook will be turned off, and the faces of over 1 billion individuals will be deleted, amid mounting concerns over the technology’s misuse.
In a blog post, Jerome Pesenti, vice-president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta, wrote, “This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history.”
“Its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates,” he wrote.
Mr. Pesenti said the company was weighing the technology’s positive uses “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”
Technology ethics are in the limelight
Face recognition was removed by the world’s largest social media platform as the industry faced a reckoning over the ethics of employing the technology in recent years.
Face recognition technology, which is widely used for security purposes by merchants, hospitals, and other enterprises have been criticized by critics as potentially compromising privacy, targeting marginalized groups, and normalizing intrusive surveillance.
Sales of facial recognition products by IBM have been discontinued indefinitely, while sales to police departments by Microsoft and Amazon have been suspended indefinitely.
Face recognition on Facebook has been around for over a decade, and over a third of the social network’s daily active members have chosen to have their faces recognized by the program.
However, the system has long been scrutinized.
When the US Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $US5 billion ($6.75 billion) to settle privacy complaints in 2019, it included it among its worries.
Following that, the business stopped using the program to automatically identify users’ friends in submitted images and propose they ‘tag’ them.
A US judge this year authorized Facebook’s settlement of a class-action lawsuit in Illinois for $US650 million ($875 million) over allegations that it collected and kept biometric data of users without their consent.
The decision to delete the software comes as Facebook confronts a public relations crisis as well as increased legislative and regulatory scrutiny as a result of the stolen documents known as the Facebook Papers.
The documents back up assertions that the social network put financial success ahead of user safety.
The business renamed itself, Meta, last week to focus on developing technology for the Metaverse, which it envisions as the next edition of the internet.
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