Facebook Pulls the Plug on Facial Recognition Software

The problematic technology is off the platform

After years of backlash and even a few lawsuits, Facebook finally shut down its facial recognition system. 

Facebook made the announcement on Tuesday, saying it will completely shut down the technology in the coming weeks. The change means you no longer will be automatically tagged in photos or videos, and you'll have to enter your or others' names manually. 

facial recognition in a crowd
Getty Images/John Lund

The social network also noted the change will impact Automatic Alt Text, which helps create image descriptions for people who are blind and visually impaired. The function only will change by no longer including the names of people automatically recognized in photos, and still will be able to recognize how many people are in a photo. 

Facebook said it will delete the individual facial recognition templates of more than a billion users who had opted into the system.

However, the company said it plans to enlist the help of outside experts to help it look into using facial recognition technology for specific use cases in the future.

"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," Jerome Pesenti, Facebook's vice president of artificial intelligence, wrote in the announcement. 

In particular, Facebook said facial recognition uses on the platform could include people using their face to gain access to a locked account or to verify their identity in financial products. 

The change comes less than a week after Facebook rebranded itself to Meta, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said signals the company's plans to prioritize the metaverse, allowing users to share immersive experiences with each other.

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