In the coming weeks, the Facebook app will longer support the facial recognition system which was used to automatically recognize users in photos and videos, for suggested tagging and other purposes. The company says that decision is taken to preserve users’ privacy and security.
This is a major change in the social media app, after the company’s rebranding from Facebook to Meta to reflect its expansion into a metaverse than just a social media company.
Every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find the right balance. In the case of facial recognition, its long-term role in society needs to be debated in the open, and among those who will be most impacted by it. We will continue engaging in that conversation and working with the civil society groups and regulators who are leading this discussion.
Facebook to delete over a billion users’ individual facial recognition templates
Upon enabling the facial recognition setting on Facebook, users are notified when they appear in photos or videos, the app shows them suggested tagging names of people in a photo or video, and more importantly, blind or visually impaired users were able to use Automatic Alt Text technology which created image description for people by identifying using facial recognition in photos.
However, the concerns outweigh the benefits. So, will be implementing the following changes related to facial recognition:
- People’s faces in Memories, photos, or videos will not be automatically recognized.
- Users will have to manually tag people in their photos and videos, suggested tagging will not be available.
- The Automatic Alt Text (AAT) will no longer identify people using facial recognition. But the feature will continue to function normally.
- The facial recognition template will be deleted if it has been opted for by the user.
As per the announcement, Facebook will narrow down the scope of the facial recognition technology to primarily on-device processing like Apple’s Face ID authentication for unlocking a device, accessing a locked account, for online purchases, and others.
These are places where facial recognition is both broadly valuable to people and socially acceptable when deployed with care. While we will continue working on use cases like these, we will ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized.