Meta has decided to completely stop with face recognition. Users on Facebook will no longer be able to automatically let the site recognize faces in photos from friends and other people. It is not sure if products of Meta like Instagram will follow this. According to Facebook, the site face recognition is used by one-third of Facebook’s userbase. (around 750 million users).
The social media website will also delete more than a billion templates, which made it possible for AI to recognize faces completely. According to Jerome Pesenti (AI department). This means that removing the recognition, will also remove any alternative text on photos. Making it harder for blind people to know what the photo is about and who is on the photo.
It is quite a drastic step to remove face recognition completely. However, Since 2019 Facebook has been in a legal battle regarding this feature. Back then Facebook must make sure that face recognition was Opt-in. Last year Facebook settled for 550 million dollars in a class-action lawsuit and very recently in February 2021 Facebook once again settled in a class-action lawsuit for 650 million dollars. It is very likely that the company was dealing with yet another lawsuit hence it decided to just remove it completely (for the time being?).
The technology itself is still very valuable, well at least according to Pesenti. He said that lawmakers need to find a balance regarding the pros and cons when using face recognition. He hopes that there will be clear rules about this subject, so maybe that one day the technology can be used (safely) again.
Pros and cons
The facial feature is very handy when you want to create an album with your partner and you don’t want to do a lot of the work manually. Google for example can recognize faces very easily and combine albums automatically. However, this does have a bad side as well. On Facebook, everyone could easily look you up and find out who you are. Which is really dangerous. Facebook also used this for advertisements. By collecting metadata about photos you appear in. It could make a very sophisticated shadow profile of you. A bit creepy no? Meta should think less about profits and more about what is moral to do. Facebook under the leading of Mark Zuckerberg has been going for profit since the start. Maybe that should finally change as well?
Nobody really expected Meta to remove facial recognition altogether. (Or maybe it is just a show?). With all the bad news surrounding the platform recently. They had to rename the main company. To distract people and not lose too many members. They don’t care about losing a few, however, they do care about if it will be a movement of people leaving en masse. The whole idea about Facebook is that you are their product being sold (data). The announcement today might even sway people to stay with Facebook. Who knows?
Let us know what do you think! We welcome any constructive feedback as well! Thanks for reading! Stay safe!