Why Facebook is shutting its controversial face recognition system

In a sudden reversal for one of the Internet’s biggest face-scanning systems, Facebook says it will end its use of facial recognition software and delete facial data on more than a billion people. The social media giant, which has used the software to automatically tag people by name in photos since 2010, said that it decided to drop the technology after carefully considering both its future promise and potential risks for surveillance and privacy.

“The many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole,” wrote Jerome Pesenti, the company’s vice president for artificial intelligence.

Read moreShocking! Did Mark Zuckerberg just copy this company's logo for 'Meta'

Shocking! Did Mark Zuckerberg just copy this company’s logo for ‘Meta’

Facebook introduced this controversial technology in a way that highlighted its benefits while downplaying the negative effects. Facebook’s promotion of the technology has already left a permanent imprint on the Internet. Companies such as Google and Apple use similar facial recognition features for photo tagging, though typically only in personal albums not available for public view.

The social network last week changed the name of its parent company to Meta, is in the midst of a crisis over its public reputation after a whistleblower came forward with tens of thousands of pages of research documenting the company’s knowledge of extensive societal harms caused by its service.

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Why Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook's name to 'Meta'

Why Mark Zuckerberg changed Facebook’s name to ‘Meta’

Mark Zuckerberg has appeared eager in recent weeks to show it takes potential negative consequences from its products into account. The company recently said, for example, that it was
pausing the development of Instagram for children in response to allegations that the company’s internal research found that the product caused harm to the body image of some teen girls.