Image: Facebook

Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, has revealed that it will be shutting down its social media platform’s facial recognition system. The facial recognition program was originally implemented by Facebook to facilitate the identification of individuals in media such as photos, but privacy concerns have prompted Meta to terminate the system. Facebook’s Automatic Alt Text (AAT) feature, which creates image descriptions for blind and visually impaired people, will also no longer include the names of people due to the end of the facial recognition program.

From Facebook:

[…] 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. 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.

What users can expect from the change, per Facebook:

  • 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 that more than a third of the social media network’s daily active users had opted in to facial recognition, culminating in more than a billion facial recognition templates. Meta has promised that those will all be deleted.

Source: Facebook

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6 Comments

  1. [QUOTE=”serpretetsky, post: 43322, member: 4634″]
    Huh. Didn’t see that coming.
    [/QUOTE]
    Ditto.

    This is positive, but I can’t imagine it is anything but lipservice. They’ve probably just determined they don’t need it in order to mine the data they want.

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