Facebook recently shocked the world when it announced that it is shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting its massive collection of facial recognition data.
Facebook introduced facial recognition system back in 2010 to automatically tag people on photos.
The feature was enabled automatically and was made opt-in in 2019.
Its collection data is comprises of more than a billion facial recognition templates. These were used to to pair faces with photos and videos.
Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation.Facebook VP of artificial intelligence Jerome Pesenti
Facebook’s VP of artificial intelligence Jerome Pesenti wrote in a blog post that he is uncertain about the environment of facial recognition technology. He believed that the decision to limit the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.
Why Is Facebook Doing This Now?
Facebook says the reason they are doing this is to weigh in the use cases for facial recognition against the growing concerns of the technology’s usage by the company.
The concerns regarding user safety on the social media platform has garnered a lot of attention from the press recently.
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What Does This Mean?
The shutting down and data deletion of Facebook’s facial recognition means users will no longer be automatically recognised in Memories, photos and videos. The option will be turned off permanently.
Facebook will continue to encourage users to tag other people manually instead.
According to Facebook, the removal of facial recognition reliant tools will start in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Automatic Alt Text, the text based description tool used to help blind people recognise what is in an image, will no longer recognise people in photos automatically.
Otherwise, the technology will continue to function normally and Facebook will continue to work closely with the blind and visually impaired community on technologies to improve it.