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Facebook to shutter its facial recognition system, citing ‘societal – USA Today

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Facebook is shutting down its facial recognition program and deleting more than 1 billion users’ faceprints, a company official said Tuesday.

The move means more than one-third of Facebook’s daily active users – about 640 million people – who have opted into the social network’s facial recognition option no longer will be automatically recognized in photos and videos, said Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Meta, the newly named parent company of Facebook, in a blog post.

Also affected: Facebook’s automatic alt text system, which uses facial recognition and artificial intelligence to give those who are blind or visually impaired descriptions of images that let them know when they or a friend are in an image.

Facebook is taking this action, Pesenti said, because “the many specific instances where facial recognition can be helpful need to be weighed against growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole.”

In addition to societal concerns about how facial recognition may be used, “regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” he said. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

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Consumer privacy groups considered Facebook’s decision on Tuesday a good one for users.

“It is welcome news that Facebook is not only shutting down facial recognition on its platform, but is also deleting the face scan data that it improperly obtained from more than a billion users,” Electronic Privacy Information Center president and executive director Alan Butler said in a statement to USA TODAY. “For far too long Internet users have suffered personal data abuses at the whims of Facebook and other platforms.”

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Facebook’s action comes just days after CEO Mark Zuckerberg changed the parent company’s name to Meta as part of its strategy to focus on the metaverse.

“The next platform and medium will be even more immersive and embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it, and we call this the metaverse,” he said.

It comes amid continued criticism among politicians and in the media after leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen – who last week testified before British Parliament – revealed the company knew about harms caused by Facebook and Instagram but failed to take action.

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Facial recognition technology has become part of personal technology in the last several years with Apple letting iPhone X owners unlock their smartphones by using their faces in 2017. Samsung added facial recognition on its Galaxy Note S8 that year too.

Some states and cities have banned the use of facial recognition technology by police and other law enforcement. California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2019 issued a three-year moratorium on the use of facial recognition in police body cameras, following similar actions in New Hampshire and Oregon.

Facebook’s move comes after other tech giants including Amazon, Microsoft and IBM paused or ended their sales of facial recognition software to police, amid concerns about misidentification of people, particularly minorities, with facial recognition.

For years, Facebook had taken criticism for its use of facial recognition.

Over the past decade, consumer watchdog groups have filed complaints about the network’s collection of biometric data with the Federal Trade Commission.

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The most recent complaint came just months after the revelations of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which as many as 87 million people may have had their data improperly shared by that political targeting firm.

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Subsequently, the company in 2019 ended the automatic feature of identifying friends in photos and suggesting users tag them.

EPIC, one of the consumer privacy groups, called for Facebook to end its facial recognition program in 2011, Butler noted. ”

“So it is good and right for Facebook to make this change, but we should not be reliant on the voluntary actions of large Internet firms to ensure that user privacy is protected,” he said. “We need comprehensive data protection regulations in the United States and we need a federal Data Protection Authority to enforce them.”

Consumer Reports senior policy analyst Maureen Mahoney echoed the need for “comprehensive federal privacy protections,” in a statement. The organization had investigated Facebook’s facial recognition settings in 2019 and found some users could not opt out of the feature.

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Those findings were cited in the FTC’s $5 billion fine of Facebook for privacy violations, issued in July 2019.

“We commend Facebook’s decision to shut down its facial recognition program, especially given the company’s history of misleading consumers over the use of the technology,” Mahoney said.

In addition, the Electronic Frontier Foundation tweeted: “Facebook has announced they will be deleting over a billion face recognition templates as they shut down their entire face recognition system. This is great news for Facebook users, and for the global movement pushing back on this technology.”

Facebook has announced they will be deleting over a billion face recognition templates as they shut down their entire face recognition system. This is great news for Facebook users, and for the global movement pushing back on this technology. https://t.co/0ErdCBhkCT

— EFF (@EFF) November 2, 2021

Still, Facebook did not commit to dropping future plans for facial recognition uses.

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“Looking ahead, we still see facial recognition technology as a powerful tool, for example, for people needing to verify their identity or to prevent fraud and impersonation,” Pesenti said, adding that the company will continue working on the technologies and with experts.

“Every new technology brings with it potential for both benefit and concern, and we want to find the right balance,” he said. “In the case of facial recognition, its long-term role in society needs to be debated in the open, and among those who will be most impacted by it. We will continue engaging in that conversation and working with the civil society groups and regulators who are leading this discussion.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Updated July 18: Developers and advertising partners may be required to share information on their app’s privacy practices in third party app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store, including the functionality of SDKs provided by Meta. To help make it easier for you to complete these requirements, we have consolidated information that explains our data collection practices for the Facebook and Audience Network SDKs.

Facebook SDK

To provide functionality within the Facebook SDK, we may receive and process certain contact, location, identifier, and device information associated with Facebook users and their use of your application. The information we receive depends on what SDK features 3rd party applications use and we have structured the document below according to these features.

App Ads, Facebook Analytics, & App Events

Facebook App Events allow you to measure the performance of your app using Facebook Analytics, measure conversions associated with Facebook ads, and build audiences to acquire new users as well as re-engage existing users. There are a number of different ways your app can use app events to keep track of when people take specific actions such as installing your app or completing a purchase.

With Facebook SDK, there are app events that are automatically logged (app installs, app launches, and in-app purchases) and collected for Facebook Analytics unless you disable automatic event logging. Developers determine what events to send to Facebook from a list of standard events, or via a custom event.

When developers send Facebook custom events, these events could include data types outside of standard events. Developers control sending these events to Facebook either directly via application code or in Events Manager for codeless app events. Developers can review their code and Events Manager to determine which data types they are sending to Facebook. It’s the developer’s responsibility to ensure this is reflected in their application’s privacy policy.

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Advanced Matching

Developers may also send us additional user contact information in code, or via the Events Manager. Advanced matching functionality may use the following data, if sent:

  • email address, name, phone number, physical address (city, state or province, zip or postal code and country), gender, and date of birth.
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Facebook Login

There are two scenarios for applications that use Facebook Login via the Facebook SDK: Authenticated Sign Up or Sign In, and User Data Access via Permissions. For authentication, a unique, app-specific identifier tied to a user’s Facebook Account enables the user to sign in to your app. For Data Access, a user must explicitly grant your app permission to access data.

Note: Since Facebook Login is part of the Facebook SDK, we may collect other information referenced here when you use Facebook Login, depending on your settings.

Device Information

We may also receive and process the following information if your app is integrated with the Facebook SDK:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, CPU core, storage size, SDK version, OS and app versions, and app package name; and
  • Networking information, such as the name of the mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, and IP address.

Audience Network SDK

We may receive and process the following information when you use the Audience Network SDK to integrate Audience Network ads in your app:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, operating system, mediation platform and SDK versions; and
  • Ad performance information, such as impressions, clicks, placement, and viewability.

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