Facebook has the face of 15% of the world’s population, but promises to erase it


Key facts:
  • Shortly, the social network will disable this function and delete the generated templates.

  • Various organizations have reported misuse of this personal information.

Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Meta, a company formerly known as Facebook, assured that the company will remove facial recognition records from its main social network. This includes the biometric data of more than 1 billion people, or approximately 15% of the world’s population.

In accordance with World Bank statisticsBy 2020, this world was inhabited by 7,753 million people. Of that impressive number, approximately 15% (more than 1.1 billion) accepted the facial recognition function on the social network Facebook; This is about 40% of the 2.74 billion registered users that the platform had by early 2021, according to data from Statista.com.

This information allowed the platform founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 to identify a person even when no one had manually “tagged” them in a photo using their username. However, according to the media APN News, there are also suspicions of misuse of that information by security forces, governments and armies.

Even Facebook has recognized these possible misuses. For example, the now renewed company denounced the ClearView AI company in February 2020 for using data from its social network to apply facial recognition to people, according to reported CBS News at that moment.

To get rid of this type of complaints and as part of the repositioning as a brand -which included the change of name to Meta reported by CriptoNoticias-, the multimillion dollar company says it is going to get rid of all that data. It will also remove automatic facial recognition from Facebook features.

On the other hand, Pesenti also reported in a post on the Meta blog that the automatic creation of alternative texts for images will be modified, a function intended for the visually impaired. These texts will no longer include people’s names, although they will continue to function normally beyond this.

The basics of change on Facebook

“We need to weigh the positive use cases of facial recognition in the face of growing societal concerns, especially as regulators still have to offer clear rules,” explains the release about the reasons for this change.

This is a measure that significantly impacts the privacy of users. At least from now on the social network will not collect or store biometric data from people’s faces. Beyond the promise of the announcement, it is not clear if Facebook or Meta have shared this data with other companies or States in the past, nor is it explained how users can make sure that their data was erased and that facial recognition no longer applies.

The APN News publication cited includes the testimony of Nathan Wessler, of the American Civil Liberties Union, who assures that Facebook had to use thousands of people’s face templates without their consent to develop this tool.

Facebook proposes to the authorities to establish “clear rules” for the proper use of facial recognition. Source: Facebook / about.fb.com.

For its part, the statement signed by Pesenti highlights: “Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people who need to verify their identity or to prevent fraud and identity theft. ».

However, the text continues, these specific instances need to be balanced with concerns about the use of this technology as a whole. Meanwhile, “in the coming weeks” Facebook will remove this feature, which is optional for users since 2019. The company will focus on “more precise” forms of identity authentication, the statement said.

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