Facebook recently announced that it would be shutting down its facial recognition system and deleting its store of face-scan data from the billion people who opted in to the system. In a press release from Meta, the newly minted parent company of Facebook, the vice president of artificial intelligence heralded the change as “one of the largest shifts in facial recognition usage in the technology’s history.” But Northeastern legal scholars see it differently, and are renewing their calls for government oversight of facial recognition and other advanced technologies.
“This is yet another example of Facebook misdirection,” says Ari E. Waldman, professor of law and computer science at the university. “They’re deleting the face scans but keeping the algorithmic tool that forms the basis of those scans, and are going to keep using the tool in the metaverse.”
Indeed, in an interview shortly after the announcement, Meta spokesperson Jason Grosse told a Vox reporter that the company’s commitmearint not to use facial recognition doesn’t apply to its metaverse products—a suite of interactive tools that Meta engineers are building to create a virtual, simulated environment layered over the physical one we interact in day to day.