SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — On Tuesday, Facebook announced after more than a decade of using face recognition, it will move away from the technology.
Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta, announcing in a blog post Tuesday that Facebook will begin to delete faceprints also known as “templates” of more than one billion people.
“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” Pesenti.
“More than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted in to 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.”
Pesenti adds the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the face recognition technology.
But the move for Facebook to ditch its face recognition system is only a public relations tactic, says SJSU lecturer in general engineering, Ahmed Banafa.
“The timing is really significant because the move itself came after a bad month for Facebook,” said Banafa.
“They’re trying to score some points with the public, with the litigation, and with the government by saying, look we’re trying to clean house.”
Banafa tells KRON4 News Facebook has been losing the public’s trust after questions were raised over privacy and data protection in the Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018.
In 2019, Facebook was sued in Illinois over its practice of using facial recognition software after the software would automatically “tag” users without their consent.
“They [Facebook] did a huge disservice for people because they lost that trust in the platform itself,” said Banafa.
“It’s a wonderful platform but the actions were really bad.”
What about Facebook’s other apps?
Facebook’s decision to turn away from facial recognition comes days after the company’s rebrand around the metaverse, which Banafa says completely relies on the facial recognition technology.
No word yet if Facebook’s other companies like Instagram and WhatsApp will move away from using the technology.
“They’re talking about Facebook, they didn’t talk about the other apps like Instagram, they didn’t say they were going to take it away from the other apps,” said Banafa.
“As I’ve said before and I am going to say it again, social media companies cannot police themselves, there should be some kind of regulation.”
“Not just a picture”
Facebook’s move sheds light on the work still needed to be done if the company looks to regain the public’s trust.
Banafa tells KRON4 News that the pictures used for facial recognition could be used for future company strategies.
He says that in order for facial recognition technology to have a place in society, companies need to have an action plan with a timeline and to be as transparent as possible.
“The picture ages over times, for example they will know your needs,” said Banafa.
“This can be a very valuable information for Facebook to provide services based on timeline,” Banafa added.
“It’s not just a picture, there’s a story behind that picture and that story belongs to the timeline of the picture until Facebook uses it again and again and again.”