Facebook will stop using facial recognition data, Meta reports
Facebook will erase the biometric records of 1 billion users
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On Tuesday, Nov. 2, Meta, Facebook's parent company, announced that the social media will stop using its facial recognition system that was used to automatically tag users in photos, videos and memories. The system will continue to be used in other functions. The company claims that this is "one of the biggest changes in the use of facial recognition in history."
The company has also said in a statement that it will delete the biometric records of 1 billion users and that the decision required "careful consideration" and was made as part of a company-wide policy.
Facebook currently has 2.8 billion users and will proceed to delete the information of those who had the feature enabled. This will not mean any change for those who did not have it enabled.
Despite its decision, Meta made it clear in the statement that it believes in the benefits of the "powerful tool."
"We have seen many places where facial recognition is highly valued by people on the platform," the company said, showcasing the situation with visually-impaired people who can access descriptions in 4% of the images and photos where their friends are tagged.
Facebook will continue to use facial recognition for some cases, including accessing blocked accounts or verifying the identity of users in financial applications.
Jerome Pesenti, Meta's vice president of artificial intelligence, said via the company's blog that it was working on balancing positive use cases for the technology "against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use."
The decision to remove the facial recognition feature came just as the European Commission is rushing to investigate Facebook for anti-competitive practices, as they believe the process could take years and would delay a possible regulation ad eternum.