Facebook shuts down its Face Recognition System

Facebook on Tuesday, 2nd November announced that it will be shutting down its Face Recognition System as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in their products.

As part of this change, people who have opted in to Face Recognition setting will no longer be automatically recognized in photos and videos, and the social media giant will delete the facial recognition template used to identify them.  

Facebook in their Blogpost mentioned, "Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity, or to prevent fraud and impersonation. We believe facial recognition can help for products like these with privacy, transparency and control in place, so you decide if and how your face is used. We will continue working on these technologies and engaging outside experts."

Ending the use of FB's existing Face Recognition system means the services it enables will be removed over the coming weeks, as will the setting allowing people to opt into the system. 

This will lead to a number of changes:

  • Facebook's technology will no longer automatically recognize if people’s faces appear in Memories, photos or videos.
  • People will no longer be able to turn on face recognition for suggested tagging or see a suggested tag with their name in photos and videos they may appear in. FB will still encourage people to tag posts manually, to help you and your friends know who is in a photo or video. 
  • This change will also impact Automatic Alt Text (AAT), a technology used to create image descriptions for people who are blind or visually impaired. AAT currently identifies people in about 4% of photos. After the change, AAT will still be able to recognize how many people are in a photo, but will no longer attempt to identify who each person is using facial recognition. Otherwise, AAT will continue to function normally, and the social media app will work closely with the blind and visually impaired community on technologies to continually improve AAT. 
  • If you have opted into our Face Recognition setting, Facebook will delete the template used to identify you. If you have the face recognition setting turned off, there is no template to delete and there will be no change. 

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