In a recent major development for Facebook and its userbase, the social media giant has finally enabled its users to allow/disallow facial recognition feature on the platform. Facebook’s controversial feature initially enabled users to tag fellow-users faces in photos – without consent. This was too much for a social media platform that is generally under scrutiny for data privacy issues. However, in an official company blog post on Tuesday, Facebook has said that they have turned off the facial recognition feature by default for the new FB users, and the existing ones as well. From now on, users need to go into their settings and enable the option of face-tagging manually to enable the feature.
This recent major change in the biggest social media platform in the world has neatly portrayed the platform’s growing concern of user’s privacy and control over their profile/data. Facebook has come under fire numerous times in the past for its lack of concern for user’s data and privacy. Back in March 2018, Facebook was caught letting a political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica steal almost 50 million of its user’s data.
The campaign saw a massive user data is used to create targeted ads to push Facebook user’s opinion in favor of certain political agendas, including the high-profile Brexit referendum & 2016 presidential election of the United States. Furthermore, Facebook is also criticized for its exploitation and double-standards against promoting violent posts against certain sects/ideologies (e. g. anti-Islam comments, FB videos, etc.)
Facebook has initially launched its facial recognition feature couple of years ago, but in a very positive and unsuspected manner: Facebook will automatically tag those of our friends that are found in the photos we upload on the network using facial recognition. However, most of us at that time were unable to suspect the inner science of this feature. Now in 2019, and with the increasing developments in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) field, technology experts warn about the penetrating role of such features in surveillance and government policing. They further acknowledge that such kind of features in a social media platform can be used unethically against people of color, political agendas, and or spreading ethnic-hatred.
Just last month, well-known U.S. politicians such as Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren both voiced their concerns over the use of facial recognition feature by any government or private firms. However, there are some of those tech gurus who believe that features like facial recognition, or others powered by AI, are not wrong entirely. Advocates of the software say that there are some worthy gains from using this technology such as finding criminals, terrorists, and or missing persons as well.
However, there is no technology ever created that is without advantages or disadvantages, it really is the balanced approach which secures the delicate balance between ill-usage and positive usage. Because AI can be heavily influenced by human bias, it would be better to put off such advanced AI-powered technics for another era when human brain leaps over the berries of personal likes/dislike for things that are meant to be public.