Following a lengthy privacy dispute, Meta (previously known as Facebook) is removing Facebook’s Face Recognition feature. The adjustment will be implemented in the next weeks, according to Meta. The corporation will stop using facial recognition algorithms to tag people in photos and videos, and it will erase the facial recognition templates it uses for identification as part of the deal.

The shift is part of a “company-wide move to limit the usage of facial recognition in our products,” according to Meta artificial intelligence VP Jerome Pesenti. Following a lawsuit accusing Facebook’s tagging technology of breaking Illinois’ biometric privacy legislation, a $650 million settlement was reached in February. In 2019, Facebook confined facial recognition to an opt-in feature.

In a blog post, Pesenti adds, “We still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool,” highlighting possibilities such as face-based identity verification. “However, the numerous cases in which face recognition might be beneficial must be balanced against growing worries regarding the usage of this technology in general.” Pesenti points out that regulators have yet to agree on a comprehensive face recognition privacy policy. “Given the current state of ambiguity, we feel it is prudent to limit the usage of facial recognition to a limited set of scenarios.”

According to Pesenti, over a billion facial recognition profiles will be erased as part of the planned shift, which would affect more than one-third of Facebook’s daily active users. Facebook’s automated alt-text system for blind users will no longer name persons while evaluating and summarizing material, nor will it suggest people tag in photographs or automatically inform users when they appear in photos and videos submitted by others as a result of the change.

Independent firms like Clearview AI, which created massive image libraries by stealing photos from social networks, including Facebook, will continue to use facial recognition algorithms trained with that data despite Facebook’s decision. For face recognition-powered monitoring, US law enforcement agencies (along with other government divisions) collaborate with Clearview AI and other companies. To limit the technology’s use more generally, state or national privacy legislation would be required.

Meta is seeking to boost user confidence in its privacy measures by turning down a feature it’s been using for years as it prepares to bring out potentially privacy-invading virtual and augmented reality technology. Earlier this year, the business announced a pair of camera-equipped smart glasses in collaboration with Ray-Ban, and it’s progressively rolling out 3D virtual worlds on its Meta VR headset platform. All of these efforts will require user and regulatory trust, and abandoning Facebook auto-tagging — especially following a court challenge to the program — is a simple way to build that trust.

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