US social media giant Facebook is deleting its facial recognition data it collected from European users and plans to soon terminate the feature there. Meanwhile, the software is gaining traction in the US, attracting apps that now recognize faces in publi
When users “tag” a friend in a photo uploaded to Facebook, the service stores and remembers facial features that identify that unique individual. Facebook is then able to suggest “tags” on newly uploaded photos to match pictures with names.
Since 2011, the Ireland-based Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has led an investigation into Facebook to see if the social media giant complied with European privacy laws. The DPC initially responded to complaints by a user group in Austria. Facebook’s European headquarters are located in Ireland, making the DPC the ideal leader in the investigation. The commissioner recommended Facebook implement a number of changes throughout the European Union, including suspending its facial recognition tool.
The DPC said the social media company has so far made most of the improvements it requested, providing greater transparency for users in how their data is handled, control over settings, more clarity on the retention periods for deleting data and greater ease for users to access their personal data.
Facebook has now also agreed to switch off its facial recognition tool, which many say is a threat to individual privacy.