Meta to continue use of facial recognition technology

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Facebook this week announced that it will no longer deploy facial recognition technologies on its platform, but the social network's parent company, Meta, said that the commitment does not apply to its metaverse products

Much to the delight of privacy advocates and critics of facial recognition systems, Facebook on Monday said it will shut down its Face Recognition tool and delete the collected facial templates of more than a billion people. The technology, which includes the controversial DeepFace algorithm, was used to identify people in uploaded photos for tagging purposes.

While Facebook is no longer using facial recognition software, Meta on Wednesday clarified that the limitation does not extend to metaverse products, reports Recode.

"We believe this technology has the potential to enable positive use cases in the future that maintain privacy, control, and transparency, and it's an approach we'll continue to explore as we consider how our future computing platforms and devices can best serve people's needs," Jason Grosse, spokesperson for Meta, told the publication.

According to the report, Meta will continue to use a variety of biometric tools as it moves aggressively into the metaverse. That includes DeepFace, an artificial intelligence technology that matches facial templates generated by Facebook's facial recognition system with user photos.

Meta's metaverse is a multi-user VR space currently accessed through Portal hardware. With complex avatars and real-time facial tracking on the horizon, the platform opens the door to a new level of user data collection that goes far beyond the boundaries pushed by Facebook.

Meta has not revealed what, exactly, it plans to do with DeepFace, but the company promises to keep users informed of upcoming changes.

"For any potential future applications of technologies like this, we'll continue to be public about intended use, how people can have control over these systems and their personal data, and how we're living up to our responsible innovation framework," Grosse said.

That stands in contrast to Facebook's handling of Face Recognition, which became an opt-in feature in 2019, some nine years after it debuted.