The company says it will delete more than a billion people’s individually-recognized faces.
What you need to know
- Facebook’s facial recognition system is being shut down and its associated data deleted.
- Meta says that a third of its users previously opted-in to having their face be automatically recognized for photo tagging, totaling over one billion recognized faces.
- This move will affect automatic alt text entries, which automatically created image descriptions for blind and visually-impaired people.
Meta says it will be shutting down the long-held facial recognition system on its Facebook social platform “in the coming weeks,” according to a blog post by Jerome Pesenti, VP of artificial intelligence at Meta. What’s more, the company will be deleting over one billion recognized faces in its database, citing societal concerns as the reason for the move and to pre-empt regulatory control after a tumultuous year for the brand.
Shutting this system down will remove the ability for Facebook to automatically tag people in photos, as well as create alt text descriptions of people in photos — a feature used to help blind and visually-impaired people better use the platform.
This same system was used to alert people when they were tagged in photos. As such, those alerts will no longer be available after the system is put to bed.
Meta says that some facial recognition will still be used in certain cases to verify identity, such as when someone gets locked out of their Facebook account, when financial services are used, or when unlocking a personal device.