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Meta To Shut Down Facebook’s Facial Recognition System, Delete 1bn Users

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Meta has said that it would shut down Facebook’s facial-recognition system in the coming weeks.

The company also said that it would delete data it collected from the over 1 billion users of the template.

The Facial recognition system recognizes users in the photos they post on the platform.

More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted in to the system.

The system also suggests people for tagging purposes when you upload a photo.

According to Meta, shutting down the system “will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” says Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artificial Intelligence.

Reasons for shutting down the system:

In a blog post, Pesenti said “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.”

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He added saying, “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

Similarly, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also blamed the move on Congress for failing to adequately address misinformation and liability for content on the network.

Also, the system has frequently made inaccurate recognitions that were offensive to some people.

For instance, Facial recognition technology often performs more inaccurately on women and people of colour compared to males and Caucasians.

Last year, Facebook agreed to pay $650m to settle a class-action lawsuit in Illinois that alleged the company had breached state biometric privacy laws by harvesting facial data for its face-tagging system without permission.

Why Meta is shutting the system now:

Meta’s move to shut down Facebook’s facial recognition system at a time like this comes as regulators have beamed serious scrutiny on the privacy, data security and algorithmic sections of tech platforms.

Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft are other tech companies that developed facial recognition systems for corporate clients.

However, all three companies have scaled back their facial-recognition efforts. Microsoft says it won’t offer the tech to law enforcement unless Congress acts, Amazon has paused its rollout to law enforcement indefinitely, and IBM has scrapped its efforts for now.

In 2019, Microsoft quietly deleted its database of 10m faces — known as MS Celeb.

Implications:

Here is what this move means.

You remember login in to Facebook and seeing a notification like, “Friend A tagged you in 96 photos on Facebook”?

Well, you won’t be seeing that any longer.

When Meta deletes the facial recognition system, it would be ending the features automatically notify users if they appear in photos or videos that others post on the platform.

Also, it would be ending a feature that suggest whom to tag in photos and videos.

Similarly, the move means Facebook won’t be able to identify people in photos using Automatic Alt Text (AAT), which describes photos to people who are blind or visually impaired.

ut AAT “depends on an underlying technology that attempts to evaluate the faces in a photo to match them with those kept in a database of people who opted-in. The changes we’re announcing today involve a company-wide move away from this kind of broad identification, and toward narrower forms of personal authentication,” Pesenti says.

“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,” Pesenti says.

Anthony Chinonso Ogbonna is the editor of Techuncode media. He is a seasoned journalist whose stint cuts across broadcast, print and, especially, the online media. A graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), Anthony holds a Masters Degree in Multimedia Journalism. He aligns his belief with those of world tech communities, holding tenaciously that the world is solely driven and can only be best with tech. Furthermore, Anthony believes that technology is simple, fun and is not what one, especially Africans, should be scared of, hence, his passion for telling compelling stories about tech in ways relatable to the ordinary user. He has his hobbies in reading and designing (new hobby though.)

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