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Facebook face recognition system is now shutting down

Critics say it could impact privacy as the technology automatically recognizes users in photos and videos

Published: November 4, 2021 By Ozair Malik

Facebook has been closely watched in recent weeks

Image source – pixabay.com

Businesses and hospitals use facial recognition for security reasons, but critics say it could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups, and normalize intrusive surveillance.

More than a third of Facebook's users have chosen to enable face recognition on the social media platform. Still, the change will result in the deletion of templates for more than one billion people.

The Largest Shift in Facial Recognition usage

More than 75% of Facebook's daily active users have chosen to be recognized by their Face Recognition setting.

Its removal will result in the loss of over a billion people's facial recognition templates.

Because we've seen several places where people using platforms place a high value on face recognition, making this change required careful consideration.

This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology's history.

Jerome Pesenti, VP of AI at Facebook

Award-winning AAT System

Powered by AI, "Automatic Alt Text" (AAT), which creates image explanations for people with visual impairments, will be affected by this alteration.

Now, AAT descriptions will not include the names of people after this change but will otherwise function normally.

Facebook has also provided recommendations for who to tag in photos and has allowed people to be notified automatically when they appear in photos or videos posted by others for many years.

The Face Recognition system, which they are turning off, is also responsible for these features.

Front Cam being used for Face Recognition

Image source – usplash.com

Good or Bad decision?

Even though this service can impact privacy, it helps people unlock a personal device, gain access to a locked account, or verify their identity in financial products.

When used properly, facial recognition can be both useful and socially acceptable in these settings.

While they'll keep working on use cases like these, they'll ensure that people have visibility and control over whether they're automatically recognized.

When the technology is used privately on a person's own devices, facial recognition can be especially useful.

This method of on-device facial recognition, which does not require the transmission of face data to an external server, is most used in smartphone unlocking systems today.

Did you know?

Following the footsteps of Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM, which stopped or paused the sale of facial recognition software to law enforcement last year due to concerns about false identifications, Facebook also went through a major change which was announced on October 28 that it would be changing its name to Meta.

The company has changed its name to focus on developing technology for the "metaverse," which it considers the next stage of the internet.

Use of AI in facial recognition

Image source – usplash.com

Ultimate outcomes

Every new technology can benefit as well as cause concern, and Facebook wants to strike the right balance. In the case of facial recognition, the technology's long-term impact on society must be debated openly and among those who will be most affected.

They will continue to participate in that conversation and collaborate with the civil society organizations and regulators driving it forward.

In the future, we see facial recognition technology being used as a useful tool for people who need to prevent fraud, verify their identity, and impersonation.

For example, Facebook believes that facial recognition can aid in developing products like these that provide privacy, transparency, and control, allowing you to decide whether and how your face is used. They'll keep working on these technologies and enlisting the help of outside experts.

The services it enables and the setting allowing people to opt into the system will be removed over the coming weeks as Facebook's existing Face Recognition system is taken out of service.

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Author
Ozair Malik
A passionate Cyber Security researcher and writer with a keen interest in Digital Forensics. A community worker running a insta blog to raise cybersecurity awareness among laymen.

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