If you’ve ever been worried about the lil’ FBI agent in your phone watching your every move, you won’t have to worry about them coming from Facebook anymore! Facebook announced on Tuesday it will be shutting down its facial-recognition system and deleting the face scans of more than 1 billion people.
“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” Jerome Present, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company said. “More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted in to our Face Recognition setting and are able to be recognized, and its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates.”
About 640 million Facebook’s users have opted in to use the social network’s face recognition system, and Presenti noted the growing concerns about facial-recognition technology’s impact on society. The use of face identification software has sparked public debate because of how it can be misused by government agencies, law enforcement and big corporations.
“Every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find the right balance,” he said.
Facebook previously scaled back the use of another feature that they introduced in December 2010 which used facial-recognition software to automatically identify people in user’s photos. Once the person’s profile was identified, the user could tag them in the photo with just one click.
The company was sued for the tag feature, and agreed to pay $650 million to settle the class-action lawsuit in Illinois. The opposing party accused the site of violating a state law that requires residents’ consent to use their biometric information including their “face geometry”
“Facebook getting out of the face recognition business is a pivotal moment in the growing national discomfort with this technology,” said Adam Schwartz, a senior lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “Corporate use of face surveillance is very dangerous to people’s privacy.”
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