San Francisco (AFP) – Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting a billion faceprints, its parent company said Tuesday, in response to serious concerns over privacy.
The announcement from the leading social media network was made as it battles one of its worst crises ever, with reams of internal documents leaked to reporters, lawmakers and US regulators.
“There are many concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” parent company Meta said in a statement.
“Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate,” it added.
It was not clear when the changes would take effect, but they will be widely felt with Facebook noting that more than a third of its daily users have opted in to using the facial recognition system.
Shutting down that system “will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates,” the statement said.
As the social media giant battles a whistleblower crisis, it has also changed its parent company name to “Meta” in an effort to move past being a scandal-plagued social network to its virtual reality vision for the future.
Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp — which are used by billions around the world — will keep their names under the rebranding that critics have called an effort to distract from the platform’s dysfunction.