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Facebook to shut down face-recognition system, delete data

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Providence, R.I. (AP) — Facebook said it will shut down its face-recognition system and delete the faceprints of more than 1 billion people.

“This change will represent one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history,” said a blog post Tuesday from Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence for Facebook’s new parent company, Meta. “Its removal will result in the deletion of more than a billion people’s individual facial recognition templates.”

He said the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the technology “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”

Facebook’s about-face follows a busy few weeks for the company. On Thursday it announced a new name — Meta — for the company, but not the social network. The new name, it said, will help it focus on building technology for what it envisions as the next iteration of the internet — the “metaverse.”

The company is also facing perhaps its biggest public relation crisis to date after leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that it has known about the harms its products cause and often did little or nothing to mitigate them.

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