Facebook will put an end to your system facial recognition and will eliminate scanning of the faces of more than one billion users. The decision to close this project started just over a decade ago is due to “many concerns about the place of this technology in society ”, as stated it’s a statement Jerome pesenti, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at Goal, the new name of the parent company that owns the social network, as well as Instagram or WhatsApp.
In December 2010, Facebook launched a facial recognition system with which it wanted to speed up the detection of faces in the images that were published in the platform. This system was the one that allowed the user to tag the person who appeared in that image. Since then, more than a third of the active users of the social network have agreed to have their face recognized, according to Pesenti, representing about 640 million people.
The growing pressure on Facebook – beset by multiple scandals about its impact on public debate and on the mental health of young people – and the increasingly well-known risks of those technologies have forced the digital empire of Mark Zuckerberg to act out. Especially considering that for ten years this system has helped Facebook to build one of the largest repositories of images in the world.
The dangers of facial recognition
In that time, organizations and experts have shown their concern about the use that can be given to such sensitive information as facial recognition. China has used these biometric surveillance systems to monitor and persecute the Uighur Muslim minority, but in the USA Cases have also been detected in which this technology amplifies racist biases and class-based to penalize the poor and African Americans. In April, the European Union announced new legislation to ban such systems.
In 2019, the company stopped using that software to recommend tagging friends and acquaintances in posted photos. That same year, the US Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $ 5 billion for misuse of its users’ private information. The state of Illinois denounced the system (ended up with a 650 million fine) and the city of San Francisco banned it because of the privacy risks it entails.
With the shutdown, Facebook hopes to focus on a more positive use of facial recognition and address “the growing concerns of society, especially since regulators have not yet established clear rules.” Last year other giants like Amazon, Microsoft or IBM announced the end or a pause of the sale of their facial recognition systems to third parties such as the police after uncovering cases about their surveillance dangers.