Facebook has said in the coming weeks they will shut down the Facebook Face Recognition system as part of a company-wide move to limit the use of facial recognition.
Currently for users who have opted in, Facebook’s Face recognition system is used to analyse photos and videos that the platform thinks a user is in. It uses profile pictures, photos and videos users are tagged in to create a unique template for a user.
This allows the system to let a user know when Facebook detects that a user appears in a photo or video but the user has not been tagged and it can also suggest you tag other users when uploading images or videos with them in, the same goes if someone uploads an image of you. Facebook also can detect if someone else uploads a profile picture which it thinks may be another user, leading to Facebook notifying the user and allowing them to report the profile for impersonation.
Facebook claims more than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted into its facial recognition system and once the system closes Facebook will delete more than a billion individual facial recognition templates.
The platform will be replacing some of the above features such as suggested tagging and is taking a different approach. For example: suggested tags will appear if a users mentions someones name in posts that are photos or videos.
It would appear one reason for the closure of this system is due to privacy concerns from users. Facebook said:
“We need to weigh the positive use cases for facial recognition against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”