Meta, the rebrand of Facebook’s parent company, confirmed it will be using facial recognition in future products. This follows the recent announcement that Facebook, as a specific division, will no longer use this technology on its site.
When Facebook announced it will stop using facial recognition, the reaction was a mix of relief and skepticism. It appears the latter sentiment was more justified.
The statement came with a disclaimer that Meta will continue to look for applications for the tech in the future.
Apparently, the future is now. Multiple Meta departments are experimenting with facial recognition and biometrics at large.
The company considered incorporating the tech into its heavily scrutinized Ray-Ban smart glasses. More interestingly, its Reality Labs division, central to Meta’s plan for a VR “metaverse,” is conducting research into biometrics, which would likely include facial recognition.
Back and Forth
Facebook began using facial recognition in 2010. Its “DeepFace” tool recognized users’ faces and automatically tagged them in photos. Although Facebook is discontinuing the use of this tech, it will still be part of Meta, along with Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus VR.
Facebook said it recognizes the potential dangers of facial recognition in its app. Yet, the uses Meta considers have far more serious implications. Interacting with a virtual reality environment requires a lot of peripheral gadgets.
These include headsets that cover the eyes, body tracking hardware, and more. All of these could be engineered to collect extremely personal biometric data, surpassing facial data and including the whole body.
Basic data collection is already heavily scrutinized by lawmakers the world over. Background checks services, including HR platforms like GoodHire, use basic data. However, this information is publicly accessible and its applications are far more harmless than biometric data.
The European Union recently passed a resolution looking to restrict the use of facial recognition. Other territories are looking to do the same. This raises the question of whether legislation can outpace Meta’s intention to push forward the use of this tech.