On November 2, 2021, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. announced in a blog post that it will shut down its “Face Recognition” system in coming weeks as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition in its products. The company cited the need to “weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”
The Facebook platform has long used facial recognition to provide recommendations for who to tag in photos and videos, and to alert users when a photo they were in is uploaded by another user. As part of this change, the company will delete the facial recognition templates of users who had previously turned on the Face Recognition setting, and will no longer automatically identify them in memories, photos and videos (including in the Automatic Alt Text descriptions generated to provide descriptions of images for individuals who are blind or visually impaired). Users also will no longer see suggested tags or be able to turn on suggested tagging.
The company acknowledged that facial recognition still may be helpful in certain instances, such as for identity verification and fraud prevention purposes. According to the announcement, the company continues to explore these types of use cases for facial recognition. In addition, the company indicated that future applications of facial recognition technology would “ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized.”