Facebook Deletes 1 billion Faceprints in Face Recognition Shutdown
Facebook announced today that they will no longer use the Face Recognition system on their platform and will be deleting over 1 billion people’s facial recognition profiles.
Facebook’s Face Recognition system analyzes photos taken of tagged users and associated users’ profile photos to build a unique identifier or template. This template is then used to identify users in uploaded photos or automatically tag people in Memories.
Now, a week after their rebranding as Meta, Facebook has announced that they are doing away with the Face Recognition feature and deleting all profile templates created by the system.
“But 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,” said Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence, in an announcement published today.
“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.”
Some of these concerns have been significant for Facebook, which recently made a $650 million settlement in a lawsuit with Illinois claiming Facebook collected and stored the biometric data of Facebook users without consent.
While this change will be seen as a victory for privacy advocates, it will come with some tradeoffs, as more than a third of Facebook’s daily users have opted into and use the Face Recognition feature.
Some of the Facebook features that will no longer work as expected include:
- Our technology will no longer automatically recognize if people’s faces appear in Memories, photos or videos.
- People will no longer be able to turn on face recognition for suggested tagging or see a suggested tag with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. We’ll still encourage people to tag posts manually, to help you and your friends know who is in a photo or video.
- This change will also impact Automatic Alt Text (AAT), a technology used to create image descriptions for people who are blind or visually impaired. AAT currently identifies people in about 4% of photos. After the change, AAT will still be able to recognize how many people are in a photo, but will no longer attempt to identify who each person is using facial recognition. Otherwise, AAT will continue to function normally, and we’ll work closely with the blind and visually impaired community on technologies to continually improve AAT. You can learn more about what these changes mean for people who use AAT on the Facebook Accessibility page.
- If you have opted into our Face Recognition setting, we will delete the template used to identify you. If you have the face recognition setting turned off, there is no template to delete and there will be no change.
Facebook says they will be shutting down their Face Recognition system and deleting the user templates in the coming weeks.