Facebook Says It Will Officially Shut Down Its Facial Recognition System

Anthony Quintano

Have you ever posted a picture on Facebook, and the social media giant automatically knew who was in the photo? That’s facial recognition. Have you ever posted a picture or video and Facebook suggested who you should tag in the post? That’s facial recognition. According to Facebook, approximately one third of the company’s users have chosen to opt into the facial recognition service.

Many people find facial recognition helpful. It prevents you from needing to label who is in the photo yourself. It is also helpful for blind people who rely on “the Face Recognition system to tell them when they or one of their friends is in an image.”

In a blog post, Facebook, whose parent company name is now Meta, announced that they will be “shutting down the Face Recognition system.” Even if you have chosen to opt into the service, Facebook will no longer automatically recognize who is in the photos. In addition, blind people who use Automatic Alt Text (AAT). “AAT descriptions will no longer include the names of people recognized in photos but will function normally otherwise.”

Facebook explained that the company weighed the positives and negatives of facial recognition “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”

Facial recognition has not been shut down yet, but it will be shut down within the next few weeks. Facebook is going to “delete the facial recognition template” they use to identify people in photos and videos. This change will “result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates.”

Facebook recognizes that facial recognition technology can be useful when it comes to privacy and identify verification. The blog post explained, “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.”

Even though facial recognition will no longer be widely used by Facebook, the company does still plan to use it in socially acceptable instances like to “verify their identity in financial products or unlock a personal device.” The company says they “will ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized.”

If you have not opted in to Facebook’s facial recognition service, you will not notice a change; however, if you have opted in, you will notice that the people in photos will not automatically be identified by Facebook.

Have you opted in to Facebook’s facial recognition service? Do you think Facebook is making the right decision by shutting down facial recognition?