In the context of increasing public criticism of Facebook and its business practices, the company, now called Meta, is taking a step back: the facial recognition service will be discontinued and previously collected data will be deleted.
Facebook refers to social concerns
However, the company is by no means admitting to its own mistakes. Facebook refers to the justification rather generally to social concerns and the desire to leave time for a public debate. At the same time, the company announces that it will continue to participate in this debate – which can be understood as a reference to the fact that the step is provisional.
More than a billion people are affected by the decision. Facebook has data about them that can be used for facial recognition. These will now be deleted. A third of Facebook’s users have actively consented to the use of facial recognition software, which can automatically identify people in photos, and thus use it. For them, any possibility of accessing the service will be eliminated in the future. Also affected are blind and visually impaired people, who can use the service to obtain information about the people pictured. In the future, only the number of people pictured will be output here. However, Facebook has announced that it wants to work closely with the affected community to improve the automatic alt text generation in the future.
Litigation due to facial recognition
It is also possible that Facebook’s withdrawal is related to costly lawsuits related to its facial recognition feature. In the past, for example, Facebook has already had to pay a fine of around $650 million for violating privacy rights with its facial recognition feature.