Facebook is unplugging its decade-old facial recognition software over concerns of misuse and the inconclusive attitude from the government about the technology.
Following the termination, more than a billion users’ data will be deleted. In addition, the platform will stop identifying people from the images and videos uploaded on its site, Facebook wrote in an announcement.
The social media tyrant said it needed to remove the feature over the growing “concerns about the place of facial recognition technology in society, and regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use.
“Facial recognition can be particularly valuable when the technology operates privately on a person’s own devices,” it wrote.
Facial recognition, along with its convenience, has also proven to be a perfect tool for illegally invading personal privacy in recent times. In addition, authoritarian countries, such as China, exploited the technology to facilitate human rights abuse.
Facebook was not the first to bid farewell to the system over misuse concerns. According to Reuters, IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft had suspended such advancement as well.
The effort to fix these loopholes after a swamping scandal of neglect from a whistleblower was praised by privacy advocates and digital rights groups.
“For far too long Internet users have suffered personal data abuses at the whims of Facebook and other platforms,” said Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. His company had called for a stop in the technology ten years ago.
Kristen Martin, a professor of technology ethics at the University of Notre Dame, told the Associated Press that it was “a good example of trying to make product decisions that are good for the user and the company.”
Back in early October, ex-Facebook manager Frances Haugen stepped out in front of the senate to discuss Facebook’s inaction when it was fully aware of foreign spies and authoritarian governments using the platform for their own gain.
“My team directly worked on tracking Chinese participation on the platform surveilling, say, Uyghur populations in places around the world,” she said. “Facebook is very aware that this is happening on the platform.”
Reuters noted from a Facebook spokesperson that facial recognition is due to be removed completely by December this year.