Facebook has announced that it is shutting down its Face Recognition system and will delete the facial data of more than one billion of its users.
Facebook said more than a third of its daily active users had previously opted into the use of face recognition technology; that’s more than 600 million accounts.
“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history. More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted into our Face Recognition setting and are able to be recognized, and its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates,” Facebook parent company Meta said in a statement.
Facebook Face Recognition is used to analyze the photos and videos that the company thinks a user is in on Facebook. It replaced the “tag suggestion” setting on the social network.
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This change will also impact Automatic Alt Text (AAT), which creates image descriptions for blind and visually-impaired people. After this change, AAT descriptions will no longer include the names of people recognized in photos but will function normally otherwise.
Facial recognition has been available on Facebook since 2011, and it turned the feature on automatically for more than 500 million people when it debuted.
“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,” the firm added.
Face Recognition and its features will be officially removed in the coming weeks.
Recently, Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta as part of a major rebrand.
The company said it would better “encompass” what it does as it broadens its reach beyond social media into areas like virtual reality (VR).