Facebook Facial Recognition Software USA 2022
From Facebook first launching its Facial Recognition feature in 2010 to shutting it down in 2021, i.e, 11 years later. There’s a lot to unfold about this technology’s journey. Which, till today, is going through the “Boon or Curse” debate.
What is Facebook Facial Recognition Software?
Facial recognition is yet another example of biometric identification techniques put to use in multiple spheres of life. Certainly, from aiding in forensic investigations to helping the blind, from unlocking smartphones to tracking students’ school attendance.
This system has an advantage over the traditional fingerprint system. Above all, its ability to recognize faces from a far-off distance instead of compulsory physical touch in the latter’s case. And while fingerprints have to be taken individually, the facial recognition software can scan an entire area.
But what role does this technology play, or used to play rather, in Facebook? What did it offer? What concerns did it raise? Let us uncover it one by one.
Facebook’s Addition of Facial Recognition Software
Facebook added this facial recognition software in 2010. Giving its users the choice to participate in it of their own free will, to which one-third of the users even consented.
Facebook’s description for the need of this feature follows:
“To recognize whether you’re in a photo or video our system compares it with your profile picture and photos and videos that you’re tagged in. This lets us know when you’re in other photos and videos so we can create better experiences.”
Facebook did this with the help of DeepFace technology, a 3D Modeling System with a 9 layer deep neural network.
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What is DeepFace?
According to Wikipedia, “DeepFace is a deep learning facial recognition system created by a research group at Facebook. It identifies human faces in digital images. The program employs a nine-layer neural network with over 120 million connection weights and was trained on four million images uploaded by Facebook users.”
The face recognition, according to Facebook, provided the following benefits:
- “Let you tag people quickly and easily”;
- “Help protect you from strangers using a photo of you as their profile picture”;
- “Help people with visual impairments by telling them who’s in a photo or video”;
- “And let you know when you might appear in photos or videos, but haven’t been tagged”.
Their system compares Memories, photos, and videos you might potentially be in with an analysis of your profile picture and Memories, photos, and videos you were already tagged in before to figure out your possible presence.
Now the main question that arises is that with so many benefits to look forward to. Why did Facebook ultimately decide to discontinue this feature on their social media website?
Let us answer this question.
What Went Wrong With Facebook’s Face Recognition Software?
Even with so many benefits of the Facial Recognition Software, things still went wrong.
With Facebook hoarding so much of its users’ personal information, issues were raised by privacy advocates regarding user safety and other unethical practices on its various platforms. Facebook even faced a lawsuit in July 2020 for collecting and storing biometric data without users’ approval. Moreover, leading to a huge settlement of $650 million.
And with the onset of Blockchain Technology, and Facebook trying to shift to Metaverse. There was a need to improve user safety and provide transparency in processes related to user data collection.
While Facebook Facial Recognition Software has a lot of benefits, it serves as one of the major privacy violations. As websites have ready access to people’s biometrics and personal information.
Facebook had to, as of then, weigh all of this technology’s pros and cons. And soon realized that this technology, as of now, poses more harm than good for the public.
All this ultimately resulted in Facebook discontinuing the Facial Recognition feature. It will delete more than a billion stored facial recognition templates collected over the years.
More about Facebook Facial Recognition Software
Having said that, Facebook has still maintained that it will continue to work on improving the technology for future use. Above all with more privacy protection as it cannot ignore the immense benefits, it is capable of providing. Such as helping the blind recognize their friends in photos and videos.
This is done through Automatic Alt Text (AAT). Which lets them know how many people are there in that particular photo or video. Moreover, the addition of the facial recognition feature will also let them know the names of the people. Present in those photos and videos.
But even after Facebook resolved to discontinue its facial recognition feature. A lot of users are still skeptical about this move. Let us know why.
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The Public’s Concerns
A lot of people are of the thought that this move of Facebook is just a Public Relations strategy. However, no such practice will actually be put into effect. People believe that Facebook will still continue to hoard personal data, keeping in mind its previous image.
And these concerns are legitimate as well since Facebook has not provided any transparency in this matter. Not even after letting the public know about its decision. Will it still store its users’ pictures? Will it be storing information about those pictures? Their metadata?
Analytics associated with those pictures?
All these questions are still unanswered. And Facebook shows no signs of answering them in the long run. The tech giant has always been insensitive to public demands for transparency and continues to be so.
No doubt Facebook has come up with a lot of advancements in technologies over the past decade. Indeed, the facial recognition feature can be put to use to solve many real-life problems. Certainly, if implemented without compromising user privacy.
Facebook still has to resolve a lot of technical and technological issues. But most importantly, it has to resolve the trust issues that its users have about it. It has to clean its past image of being a data hoarder.
It is high time it works on improving its reputation in the public’s eyes.
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