NEWS3 November 2021

Facebook to end use of facial recognition for photos

News North America Privacy Technology

US – Facebook is closing its face recognition system and will delete more than one billion people’s individual facial recognition templates, its parent company Meta has said.

Person holding phone with Facebook login screen

In a blog written by Jerome Pesenti, vice-president of artificial intelligence at Meta, the company said that people on the Facebook network will no longer be automatically recognised in photos and videos.

Automatic alt text (AAT), which creates image descriptions for blind and visually-impaired people, will also no longer include the names of people recognised in photos on Facebook.

The blog said that the move was part of a company-wide shift towards limiting facial recognition in Facebook products.

More than a third of Facebook’s daily users are opted into face recognition and are able to be recognised, but will have their facial recognition templates deleted as a result of the new policy.

The company said it would continue to explore methods of facial recognition that maintain people’s privacy, control and transparency, such as on-device facial recognition, which does not require facial data to be stored on an external server.

“The many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole,” wrote Pesenti.

“There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use.

“Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”