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Facebook to shut down its face-recognition system

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Facebook plans to shut down its decade-old facial recognition system this month, deleting the face scan data of more than one billion users and effectively eliminating a feature that has fuelled privacy concerns, government investigations, a class-action lawsuit and regulatory woes.
Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Meta, Facebook’s newly named parent company, said in a blog post on Tuesday that itwas making the change because of “many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society.” He added that the company still saw the software as a powerful tool, but “every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find right balance.”
The decision shutters a feature that was introduced in December 2010 so that Facebook users could save time. The facial-recognition software automatically identified people who appeared in users’ digital photo albums and suggested users “tag” them all with a click, linking their accounts to the images. Facebook now has built one of the largest repositories of digital photos. Facial-recognition technology has increasingly been the focus of debate because of how it can be misused by governments, law enforcement and companies. In China, authorities use the capabilities to track and control the Uighurs. In the US, law enforcement has turned to the software to aid policing, leading to fears of overreach.
Facebook only used its facial-recognition capabilities on its own site and did not sell its software to third parties. Even so, the feature became a privacy and regulatory headache for the company.
The new change will affect more than a third of Facebook’s daily users who had facial recognition turned on for their accounts, according to the company. Although Facebook plans to delete more than one billion facial recognition templates by December, it will not eliminate the software that powers the system. It has also not ruled out incorporating facial recognition into future products.
FB is not the first large tech firm to pull back on the software. Amazon, Microsoft and IBM have paused or ceased selling similar products to law enforcement in recent years.




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