Privacy Concerns Force Facebook to End Controversial Facial Recognition

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Facebook has announced it will be cancelling its facial recognition system amid growing concerns over privacy.

The cancellation will involve deleting scan data for over a billion Facebook users.

Facebook's system had the ability to recognise people in photos posted to the social media site.

"This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history," Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook’s parent company Meta, wrote in a statement. "There are many 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."

Pesenti added that "the coming weeks" would see the system wound down.

While the news has been welcomed by privacy advocates, some see it as a cynical move to deflect from recent criticism of Facebook following documents leaked by a whistleblower.

"My feed is equally divided between people who think Facebook’s decision to stop using its facial recognition system and delete faceprints is a big deal and the people who think it’s a desperate grab for positive headlines that changes nothing of substance," Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at watchdog Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote on Twitter.

"Facial recognition is one of the most dangerous and politically toxic technologies ever created," said Caitlin Seeley George, campaign director at digital advocacy group Fight for the Future. "Even Facebook knows that."

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