Internet company Meta: Facebook turns off face recognition

Status: 03.11.2021 8:44 a.m.

The Internet company Meta has announced that it will abolish face recognition on the Facebook online network. The group justified the step with social concerns about the technology.

By Marcus Schuler, ARD Studio Los Angeles

The Internet company from Silicon Valley, renamed Meta by Facebook, is clear. The company says it wants to switch off its facial recognition software, which has been in operation for more than a decade. The online network announced that around a billion user data would be deleted and facial recognition would be stopped.

Jerome Pesenti, Vice-Head of the Artificial Intelligence Department at Meta, wrote in a blog entry that there are many concerns in society about the technology. In addition, the legislators have still not managed to establish clear rules for such systems. However, the manager did not mention a shutdown date.

The group introduced the function in 2010. It automatically identified people who appeared in the users’ digital photo albums. A link between face and account was possible.

640 million people use facial recognition

Facebook has now built one of the largest digital photo archives in the world, thanks in part to this software. More than a third of the daily active Facebook users have agreed in the terms of use that their faces can be recognized by the system of the online platform. That’s around 640 million people.

Because the technology has been getting better and better in the past few years, it is more and more criticized. The Chinese government uses facial recognition software to monitor the Muslim Uyghur minority. Police authorities in the USA also use the technology. In some states and cities, however, it has now been banned again to prevent abuse.

Facebook criticized for whistleblowing

Facebook is currently trying to get into conversation with positive news. The group has been criticized in the United States for weeks. The accusation: It does not do enough against fake news and hateful messages, puts greed for profit above the well-being of its users and regularly violates their privacy.

In addition, pierced documents from ex-employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen suggested that the company knew about the harmful effects of its products, especially for young people, but had done little to prevent it.

The company only announced on Thursday that it would rename itself to Meta. The name change does not apply to the social network itself.

Facebook wants to turn off controversial face recognition

Marcus Schuler, ARD Los Angeles, November 3rd, 2021 7:45 a.m.

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