We’re shutting down the Face Recognition system on Facebook. People who’ve opted in will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos and we will delete more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates- Facebook
Facebook plans to shut down its decade-old facial recognition system this month, deleting the face scan data of more than one billion users. Earlier the same feature had caused privacy concerns, government investigations, a class-action lawsuit and regulatory woes.
The decision shutters a feature that was introduced in December 2010 so that Facebook users could save time. The facial-recognition software automatically identified people who appeared in users’ digital photo albums and suggested users “tag” them all with a click, linking their accounts to the images. However, Facebook has been under fire for the same face recognition system since a couple of years.
This decision by Meta formerly known as Facebook has multiple mixed reactions not just from its users but also multiple researchers.
Facebook killing off its facial recognition system isn't some good-governance decision to be sweet.
It means there's already a problem and they're putting out a fire.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) November 2, 2021
Can't wait to find out the real, horrible reason why Facebook is suddenly claiming it will delete everyone's facial recognition templates (and will allegedly stop scanning people).
— Violet Blue® (@violetblue) November 2, 2021
So Facebook is deleting one billion facial recognition scans, but it's keeping DeepFace, the model that is trained on all those faces. Note that "the company has also not ruled out incorporating facial recognition into future products." Very meta. 👀 https://t.co/8ntPg5Hyf9
— Dr. Kate Crawford (@katecrawford) November 2, 2021
Meta, in the past, had been called out many times for this feature as users and researchers were not happy with it not only because it breached privacy but also because of its wide implementation for misuse.
“This biometric data is so sensitive that if it is compromised, there is simply no recourse,” Shawn Williams, a lawyer for plaintiffs in the class action suit, said at the time. “It’s not like a Social Security card or credit card number where you can change the number. You can’t change your face.”
Many are calling it a strategy in response to the lawsuits that Facebook couldn’t get away from and has finally decided to end this headache for themselves. However, many are also sceptical as to what intention was behind this implementation. Who’s to say what the real reason behind Facebook’s abrupt closure of a decade old feature really is and what does the giant really have in store in place of it?