Facebook shuts down facial recognition software – KION546
By Rachel Metz, CNN Business
Facebook announced on Tuesday that it plans to stop using facial recognition software that can automatically recognize people in photos and videos posted to the social network, marking a sea change for both the tech industry and for a company known for collecting vast amounts of data over its billions. users.
Facebook, which changed its company name to Meta at the end of October, also said he plans to delete the data he has collected through his use of this software, which is associated with more than a billion faces.
The decision, announced in a blog post written by vice president of artificial intelligence Jerome Pesenti, comes as the company is widely scrutinized for potential real-world damage to its social platforms following a Hundreds of internal documents leaked by the whistleblower.
Pesenti wrote that the world’s largest social network will shut down its facial recognition system in the coming weeks “as part of a company-wide initiative to limit the use of facial recognition in our products “.
Facebook will still be working on facial recognition technology, however, and could use it in its products – ranging from social media to a futuristic pair of eyeglasses – in the future.
“Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people who need to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and identity theft,” Pesenti wrote.
In his article, Pesenti highlighted concerns about the suitability of the technology, which has come under intense scrutiny as it is increasingly used but, in the United States, at least, barely regulated.
“We need to weigh the positive use cases of facial recognition against growing societal concerns, especially since regulators have yet to provide clear rules,” Pesenti wrote.
Kirsten Martin, professor of technological ethics at the University of Notre Dame, called the move “a good example of regulatory pressure” because the company’s facial recognition system had long been the target of regulators. “The sheer volume of images Facebook had to keep and secure was a constant vulnerability for Facebook, both in terms of cost but also in terms of trust,” said Martin.
The decision to stop using the software and erase data related to existing users of the feature marks an about-face for Facebook, which has been a major user and supporter of the technology. For years, the social network has allowed people to opt for a facial recognition setting that would automatically tag them in photos and videos. Pesenti wrote that more than a third of the company’s daily active users opted for the setting – more than 643 million people, as Facebook had 1.93 billion daily active users in the third quarter of 2021.
Facial recognition software has sparked much controversy as concerns grow about its accuracy and the underlying racial biases. For example, technology has proven to be less accurate in identifying people of color, and several black men, at least, have been wrongly arrested for using facial recognition. Although there is no national legislation regulating the use of the technology, a growing number of states and cities are adopting their own rules to limit or prohibit its use.
Pesenti pointed out that stopping the use of facial recognition software will also mean that Facebook’s automatically generated image descriptions for the visually impaired will no longer add the names of those who have been recognized on the images.
Despite the timing of Facebook’s move, Caitlin Seeley George, campaign manager for digital rights group Fight for the Future, cautioned against dismissing it as a public relations stunt. She says the move demonstrates that Facebook is questioning the value of technology and that it will impact the lives of millions of people.
The move, she noted, comes shortly after announcements from other companies trumpeting the tech – such as Delta Air Lines is growing the use of facial recognition software to check in customers for flights.
“The fact that a company as big and influential as Facebook is coming forward and acknowledging the harms of facial recognition is definitely a sign of the times,” she said.
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