Facebook announced this week that it will stop using facial recognition technology by default to suggest tags when users upload photos. The move comes amidst increasing legal scrutiny over Facebook’s use of the technology, including a class action suit alleging the social media giant illegally gathered millions of users’ biometric data.
According to Facebook, new users will have the choice to opt in to facial recognition when they join the platform, and existing users will receive a notice informing them of the change.
“We’ve continued to engage with privacy experts, academics, regulators and people on Facebook about how we use face recognition and the options you have to control it,” Srinivas Narayanan, Facebook’s AI research lead, wrote in a blog post announcing the change. “Facebook’s face recognition technology still does not recognize you to strangers. We don’t share your face recognition information with third parties. We also don’t sell our technology.”
Though Facebook announced this change quietly, it represents a seismic shift in how the company does business. Facebook is overwhelmingly reliant on our data to make money, and our biometric information is among the most valuable kinds of info it can gather. Facebook must must have really felt the pressure to back off on the use of this controversial technology.
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