Will Deleting Facial Recognition Data Affect Facebook Users’ Security?
Facebook recently attracted attention due to the announcement of its new parent company name, Meta. Long-term plans include creating a virtual world called a “metaverse” where people and brands interact. However, other changes will happen much sooner, such as the end of the Facebook facial recognition feature.
So what does this mean for you? And how might it affect your security?
What Did Facebook Facial Recognition Do?
Facebook used facial recognition for several purposes. For example, the technology helped generate image descriptions for people who are blind or visually impaired, helping them to know if a college classmate or co-worker was in a picture.
There’s also a longtime Facebook feature that gave users automatic notifications when friends posted photos featuring them. Similarly, it suggested who people should tag when uploading photos. Facial recognition worked in the background in those cases.
What’s Changing With Facebook Facial Recognition?
The most significant part of Facebook’s move away from facial recognition is that it will delete the identifying templates of more than a billion people who’d agreed to use the site’s service. The total figure represents more than one-third of Facebook’s users.
This means image descriptions created for the blind and visually impaired will no longer include people’s names. Additionally, people won’t see automatic tagging options when uploading photos or videos.
Will Facebook Still Use Facial Recognition?
In short, Facebook says it will no longer rely on facial recognition technology to detect when people appear in the site’s content. However, the company is not leaving facial recognition behind. Instead, it intends to keep using the technology in certain instances.
A post on Facebook’s corporate blog asserts, “We believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate. This includes services that help people gain access to a locked account, verify their identity in financial products, or unlock a personal device.”
It continued, “These are places where facial recognition is both broadly valuable to people and socially acceptable when deployed with care. While we will continue working on use cases like these, we will ensure people have transparency and control over whether they are automatically recognized.”
Will This Change Affect Facebook’s Public Perception?
Numerous damaging allegations about Facebook’s algorithms and how they encourage engagement have put the company in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
The overall situation worsened when an October 4, 2021, global outage persisted for more than six hours, affecting Facebook and other companies under the Meta umbrella like Instagram. In fact, analysts estimate that event caused approximately $60 million in lost revenue.
More recently, a CNN poll found 76 percent of people think Facebook makes society worse. Additionally, 55 percent of respondents with that view primarily blame how some people use the site. The remaining 45 percent think the main issue is with the social media site’s operations.
Consumer Reports conducted a study in 2019 to see how users felt about concerns related to the site’s handling of data and user privacy matters in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal. The results showed that nearly 25 percent of people felt very or extremely concerned about the amount of personal information Facebook collects and stores.
The Consumer Reports team also heard personal perspectives from people who didn’t like how Facebook used data, but continued using the platform. More specifically, only one in 10 people gave up the site after hearing about the Cambridge Analytica disaster.
Facebook made security changes then, too, such as making it easier for people to select data and privacy preferences. It’s easy to suspect, then, that pledges to strengthen security by deleting facial recognition data is a mere scramble to fix the company’s image. It’s too early to say whether this change alone will positively affect how people view the business, though.
No Major Security Improvements Here
If a person only reads the headlines about Facebook’s facial recognition plans, they might get the impression the company’s leadership genuinely cares about making changes for the better.
However, we need to remember that the company will still use facial recognition in cases it deems appropriate. Given Facebook’s history, it’s reasonable to expect its definition of an acceptable use may vary from what many users consider agreeable.
Since people will still opt in to future facial recognition features, it’s critical they read the details before activating anything new on their profiles.
You’ve decided to delete your social media accounts? Here’s how to delete Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
About The Author
(39 Articles Published)
Shannon is a content creator located in Philly, PA. She has been writing in the tech field for about 5 years after graduating with a degree in IT. Shannon is the Managing Editor of ReHack Magazine and covers topics like cybersecurity, gaming, and business technology.
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November 12, 2021 at 11:53AM