Before you go checking the temperature down in Hell or watching the skies for flying pigs, you should take this small bit of good news with a healthy dose of skepticism. Facebook is facing a veritable crap-storm of scrutiny on multiple fronts, and while they have enough money and backing from shareholders to thumb their noses at just about everyone, at a certain point it just makes good marketing sense to throw the public a bone to demonstrate that they aren’t all bad. In this case, Facebook has decided it’s facial recognition features make a good sacrificial offering, and will be eliminating this feature from its social media platforms. They didn’t say exactly when this was happening, but as long as they go through with it, it will be a welcome change.
What this means for you
I bet you didn’t realize that Facebook’s facial recognition features have been around for over 10 years, but if you’ve used the platform at all, you’ve come across it numerous times, perhaps unwillingly. While Facebook has (supposedly) never used or offered its facial recognition software outside of its platforms, scrapping it is good optics, as the technology itself has also been coming under increased fire from privacy and rights watchdogs. While Hollywood would have you believe otherwise, the use of facial recognition by law enforcement has faced heavy criticism and has been used by less democratic governments to suppress minorities, protestors and dissidents.
Don’t let this gesture distract from Facebook’s other problems. The allegations leveled by the Facebook whistleblower are serious enough that Facebook is now facing Congressional scrutiny, as well as significant criticism from other countries as well. Changing their name is another thinly veiled attempt to deflect and divide the withering amount of fire they are receiving. If you value the platform at all, it’s important to make sure your voice is heard by your local representatives and senators so that it can be held answerable for the vast amount of disinformation and division it has wrought on the world in the name of profit. There is zero chance they will do anything to amend their ways if we all give them a pass. Unlike coaching an individual by praising progress and providing constructive criticism, the only message Facebook seems to understand is congressional scrutiny and potential damage to their bottom line.