Facebook will delete one billion faceprints and face recognition system

2 November 2021, 17:33 | Updated: 2 November 2021, 17:56

Facebook is deleting a billion people's accounts
Facebook is deleting a billion people's accounts. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Facebook will close down its face recognition system and delete faceprints of more than a billion people, the social media company has said.

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The under-fire social media service introduced the technology more than a decade ago but has been scaling back its use.

In 2019, it stopped using face recognition tools to find users' friends when photos were uploaded, which would allow it to suggest they tag people in them.

Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook's new parent company Meta, said: "This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology's history.

"More than a third of Facebook's daily active users have opted in to our Face Recognition setting and are able to be recognised, and its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people's individual facial recognition templates."

He added that Meta was evaluating the use of technology against "growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules".

Read more: Facebook and Instagram 'allow bullying to follow children home', whistleblower claims

It comes after a former employee turned whistleblower told MPs Facebook and Instagram allowed bullying to “follow children home at night”.

Frances Haugen, a former data scientist at Facebook, left the organisation earlier in 2021 when she released thousands of sensitive documents about its practices.

She called for regulation and told a Commons committee that the social media service’s problems were like an “oil spill” and said she believed it “unquestionably” makes hate in society worse.

"Facebook's own reports say that it is not just that Instagram is dangerous for teenagers, it is actually more dangerous than other forms of social media," she said.

"Instagram is about social comparison and about bodies. It is about people's lifestyles and that is what ends up being worse for kids."

Facebook has denied her allegations.