Facebook has now decided on changing how it’s going to use the facial recognition Technology-the feature used on the platform that allows faces to be automatically tagged in the photos. From now to get this feature on your social media handler, you will have to opt for it by approving the permit. This feature will be off by default for all the new users and for all the current users who do nothing when they receive an upcoming notification about the change in Facebook.
Facebook decided to launch the facial recognition feature many years ago in a context that was innocent at the time of the launch. The facial recognition feature automatically tagged all our friends’ faces for us in all the photos that we used to post on the social media network. That was, for most of us, the first introduction to the simple facial recognition and later we barely gave the convenient feature any kind of second thoughts.
Moving to 2019, the headlines of some of the news channels are saturated with the Facebook users criticizing about the ill effects of the feature. The feature plays a lead role in the surveillance and policing of all the pictures posted on Facebook. The feature also helps the authorities and the AI experts at Facebook point out to all the evidence showing that it can disproportionately harm people of colour or their sentiments. Some of the huge companies like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft all have added and mentioned their concerns over this tech. Some cities like San Francisco, Oakland and Somerville have already decided to impose local bans on the feature.
Last month, the popular Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen Bernie Sanders decided to call for a nationwide total ban on the use of this facial recognition software for the use of police. Sen Elizabeth Warren also announced that she would be creating a task force to establish proper guardrails and the appropriate privacy protections for all types of surveillance tech and software which also includes the Facial recognition software of Facebook.
As the tech pops up everywhere regardless of the location of the device that is in the apartments, malls or airports, people are increasingly criticizing it and it also has sparked large controversies amongst the users. Some of the recent examples of such controversies are for example the Tenants from Brooklyn who objected when the landlord decided to install this technology in their rent-stabilized building. Or we can consider the example of the lady traveller who complained on Twitter that Jetblue Airways had checked her into her flight using the face recognition feature without her permission.
Against this huge problem, it’s no wonder that the Facebook authorities are doing all they can do to be more judicious about the use of the controversial facial recognition technology. The company has been facing a lot of trouble in all types of privacy scandals out of which the Cambridge Analytica is the only the most serious one. The last thing the company can expect is to have more accusations that they have failed to take the users’ privacy seriously.
One, of the federal trade Commissions’ recent accusations against Facebook, is that the whole company has been misleading all the users years ago by not properly explaining the use and the application of facial recognition. Facebook later completed a 5 million dollar settlement with the FTC in July and it was then decided that the company has to be clearer on the uses of the technology that they create.
On a recent blog post under the section of privacy matters, Facebook posted that they have continued to engage with the privacy experts, academics, the regulator’s and the people working on Facebook about how they will be using the face recognition feature, the updates and the options you will have to control it.
Benefits of the Update
The Facebook notification has emphasized on the pros and cons of opting into the feature. It says that taking the decision means that Facebook can help the user protect against someone who might be using their photo to impersonate you or help the people having visual impairments whenever you are in a photo or a video through the screen reader.