Facebook announced Tuesday that it is shutting down its facial recognition program.
As part of the closure, it will delete more than one billion users’ biometric data. This constitutes more than one-third of Facebook’s user base. Although the company will delete user data, it intends to keep Deep Face, the facial recognition software it developed.
Vice President of Artificial Intelligence Jerome Pesenti of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, stated that there were “[m]any 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. Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”
Facebook’s facial recognition program has drawn significant penalties for the company in the past. Earlier this year, Facebook paid $650 million in a class-action settlement after the company was sued for collecting users’ biometric data without permission. Following the settlement, Facebook changed its facial recognition program from opt-out to opt-in.
The company paid a historic $5 billion penalty with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its data privacy breaches in 2019. That penalty followed an investigation into the company’s data privacy practices after the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facial recognition was one of several data privacy concerns at issue in the FTC investigation and settlement.