Facebook shuts down face recognition, to delete billions of face recognition templates

Facebook shuts down face recognition, to delete billions of face recognition templates
It's been a busy few weeks for Facebook. The social media platform is under scrutiny because of leaked information by whistleblower Frances Haugen, while at the same time, Facebook the company is undergoing a rebranding strategy to better reflect Mark Zuckerberg's ambitions for the future of the internet. In the middle of all this, a blog post reveals there is an important change going on on Facebook: it is going to remove its Face Recognition software.

Facebook will no longer use Facial recognition

The blog post was written by Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence in Facebook, and announced an important change coming to Facebook. The social media platform won't be using the Face Recognition system anymore, and the company will be deleting more than a billion people's individual facial recognition templates.

According to the blog post, more than a third of Facebook's daily active users have opted in to use Face Recognition, and they will no longer be able to automatically be recognized in photos and videos. The templates that Facebook will be deleting have been used for this automatic Face recognition feature that Facebook will be shutting down.

Pesenti stated that Facebook needed to weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition technology against the growing concerns in society related to security and privacy. He adds that on top of that, regulators have not provided clear rules yet.

Facial recognition on Facebook will be shut down in the coming weeks.

One of the positive use cases for the technology that the company took into consideration is the automatic alt text system, which uses AI to generate descriptions of images for visually impaired users. This tech was using the face Recognition system to tell the visually impaired users if they or one of their friends or acquaintances was present in a photo.

Additionally, another feature that was related to the Face Recognition software was the option to be automatically notified if you appear in photos or videos posted by someone. This feature, as well as the recommendations for who to tag in photos, won't be available anymore as the technology for facial recognition will be shut down.

However, the company still plans to use Face Recognition tech to prevent impersonations or when users need to verify their identity. The instances where the tech will continue to be used is when you need to gain access to a locked account, verify your identity in financial products, and the blog post states that Facebook will nevertheless ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized.

Despite the positive use cases of Face Recognition though, there were raising concerns by society that the company decided to weigh in when the decision was made.

Here are the changes this will bring:
  • Facebook won't be able to automatically recognize if people's faces appear in Memories, photos, or videos
  • You will no longer be able to turn on face recognition for AI-suggested tagging
  • Automatic Alt Text for visually impaired people won't be able to identify who each person in a photo is. But it will still be able to tell how many people there are
  • If you have opted in for Face recognition, your template in Facebook's servers will be deleted. If you didn't opt-in, there is no template to delete

This change comes after Facebook (the company) has changed its name to Meta in order to better reflect Zuckerberg's views of the future of the internet and the metaverse. Earlier, Facebook was under scrutiny because of the testimony of former employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen, who stated that despite knowing the negative effect Facebook and Instagram had on young users, the company made no changes to mitigate the issue.
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