Facebook has announced that facial recognition for photo-tagging will not be in use. Meta has said that the platform will shut off its facial recognition software and delete the facial templates of more than a billion people. When people take photos on Facebook, this software uses an algorithm to identify people in the images. This decision represents a significant step for the movement against facial recognition.
On Instagram and its Portal devices, Meta says that facial recognition isn’t a feature. To the metaverse products of the company, the new commitment doesn’t apply. To introduce biometrics into its emerging metaverse business, Meta is already exploring ways. The company plans to build a virtual, internet-based simulation so that users can interact as avatars. The company is also facing DeepFace, the sophisticated algorithm that powers its photo-tagging facial recognition feature.
The company believes that this technology has the potential to enable positive use cases in the future. It will maintain transparency, control, privacy and will continue to explore this approach. For technologies like this, any potential future applications, the company will keep sharing details with the public about its purpose, how users can have control over their data and these systems, and how the company is developing an innovative framework.
Facebook initially launched the facial recognition tool in 2010 to make its photo-tagging feature more popular. The main aim was to let an algorithm automatically suggest tagging a particular person in a photo uploaded. The uploader doesn’t have to tag anyone manually. The photos users upload to keep the software informed, which the company uses to create unique facial templates tied to their profiles. The DeepFace AI technology was developed from pictures uploaded by the users. It helps to match users’ facial templates to faces in different photos.
Immediately the feature was launched, the privacy experts raised concerns. Since then, researchers have carried many studies showing that facial recognition can have baked-in racial and gender bias. In response to growing opposition to the technology, the company made the facial recognition feature opt-in in 2019. After a lawsuit claimed the tagging tool violated Illinois’s Biometric Information Privacy Act, the company also agreed to pay a $650 billion settlement last year.
Defending this particular use of facial recognition technology has become too expensive for the company. Meta hasn’t ruled out using DeepFacein in the future. Many of Meta’s current projects show that it doesn’t plan to stop collecting data about peoples’ bodies. Meta is developing Hyper-realistic avatars that people will operate as they travel through the metaverse. In real-time, it requires tracking people’s facial movements to be recreated by their avatar. Meta plans to launch a new virtual reality headset that will include sensors that track peoples’ eye and facial movements next year.
Into its new Ray-Ban intelligent glasses, the company also weighed incorporating facial recognition, allowing the user to record their surroundings as they walk around. Many new laws are coming related to facial recognition, but Meta will not point out any specific law that it supports.