Facebook announced, on Tuesday, that it will shut down the facial recognition system that automatically identifies users in photos and videos, citing growing societal concerns about the use of this technology.
“Regulators are still in the process of introducing a clear set of rules governing its use,” Jerome Bisenti, Facebook’s vice president of artificial intelligence, said in a blog post. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”
The company, which last week rebranded itself as Meta Platforms, said more than a third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted to set up facial recognition on the social networking site, and the change will now remove “facial recognition templates” for more than 1 billion people.
A Facebook spokesperson said the removal will be rolled out globally and is expected to be completed by December.
Facebook added that its automatic alt text tool, which creates image descriptions for people with visual impairments, will no longer include the names of people recognized in photos after facial recognition is removed, but will work normally otherwise.
The removal of facial recognition by the world’s largest social media platform comes as the tech industry has faced an account over the past few years amid criticism that technology can wrongly identify people as part of crimes, or favor white faces over people of colour.
Facebook is also under intense scrutiny by regulators and lawmakers over user safety and a wide range of violations on its platforms.