This file photo illustration taken on March 25, 2020 shows a Facebook App logo displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia in the United States. (Olivier DOULIERY / AFP)
Facebook Inc announced on Tuesday it is shutting down its facial recognition system, which automatically identifies users in photos and videos, citing growing societal concerns about the use of such technology.
"Regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use," Jerome Pesenti, vice-president of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. "Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate."
Critics say facial recognition technology – which is popular among retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes – could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance
The removal of face recognition by the world's largest social media platform comes as the technology industry has faced a reckoning over the past few years over the ethics of using the technology.
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Critics say facial recognition technology – which is popular among retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes – could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance.
IBM has permanently ended facial recognition product sales, and Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc have suspended sales to police indefinitely.
The news also comes as Facebook has been under intense scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over user safety and a wide range of abuses on its platforms.
The company, which last week renamed itself Meta Platforms Inc, said more than one-third of Facebook's daily active users have opted into the face recognition setting on the social media site, and the change will now delete the "facial recognition templates" of more than 1 billion people.
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The removal will roll out globally and is expected to be complete by December, a Facebook spokesperson said.