The facial recognition system on Facebook is being discontinued by Meta. In the coming weeks, the feature will be removed from Facebook and users will no longer be able to recognize people in photos and videos on the platform.
In a message on the Facebook website, Jerome Pesenti of the AI division at Facebook writes that facial recognition will be taken offline in the coming weeks. In addition, the platform is going to remove more than a billion templates that could be used to recognize faces.
According to Pesenti, a third of Facebook users have activated the face recognition functionality. He also writes that disabling the system will ensure that images no longer automatically receive an alt-text, with which blind and partially sighted people can be told who is in a photo.
Facebook became involved in a lawsuit in 2019 over facial recognition on Facebook. Back then, the company already had to provide an opt-in, so that users had to actively choose to enable facial recognition on their Facebook photos. Last year, the platform settled for $550 million in a class action lawsuit and in February it was settled again for $650 million.
According to Pesenti, the technology is still valuable, but a balance must be struck between the benefits and risks of facial recognition. He hopes for an open debate and that policymakers will establish clearer rules for the use of facial recognition.
Facebook announced a name change last week. The company is now called Meta. All existing platforms will keep their current name, including Facebook. The name change was announced at the same time as a larger vision for developing the metaverse.