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Meta to shut down Facebook's facial recognition system

The withdrawal of facial recognition by the world's largest social media network comes as the tech sector has faced a reckoning over the ethics of employing technology in recent years.

Facebook to shut down its facial recognition system meta gcw
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New Delhi, First Published Nov 3, 2021, 9:19 AM IST
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Facebook Inc announced the shutdown of its face recognition system, which automatically recognises users in images and videos, citing rising social concerns over the use of such technology. According to Jerome Pesenti, Facebook's vice president of artificial intelligence, regulators are still working on developing a clear set of laws controlling its usage in a blog post. He also stated that, in light of the persistent ambiguity, restricting the deployment of face recognition to a limited range of use cases is reasonable.

The withdrawal of facial recognition by the world's largest social media network comes as the tech sector has faced a reckoning over the ethics of employing technology in recent years. Critics argue that face recognition technology, widely used for security purposes by stores, hospitals, and other enterprises, might jeopardise privacy, target marginalised groups, and legitimise intrusive monitoring. IBM has permanently discontinued sales of face recognition products, and Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc have banned sales to law enforcement indefinitely.

Also Read | Facebook Inc. rebrands as Meta; names of mobile apps to remain the same

The announcement comes when Facebook is under heavy scrutiny from regulators and politicians for user safety and a wide variety of abuses on its services. Last week, the business, which renamed itself Meta Platforms Inc, announced that more than one-third of Facebook's daily active users have opted into the social networking site's face recognition option and that the move would now destroy the "facial recognition templates" of more than 1 billion individuals. According to a Facebook spokeswoman, the removal would be implemented internationally and is scheduled to be completed by December.

After eliminating facial recognition, Facebook's automated alt-text feature, which generates picture descriptions for visually challenged individuals, will no longer include the names of persons detected in photographs but will otherwise work correctly. Facebook has not ruled out the use of facial recognition technology in other products, calling it a "strong tool" for identity verification, for example.

Also Read | India seeks access to Facebook algorithms and processes

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