Drastic Changes to Facebook’s Facial Recognition and Ad Targeting Policies

Meta, Facebook’s mother company, announced two major changes to its policies, both intended to enhance users’ privacy.

The first change is the discontinuation of use of facial recognition technology on Facebook. Facial recognition enabled the operation of two main features: automatic tagging suggestions of people in photos and videos, and image descriptions for the blind and visually impaired (also known as Automatic Alt Text (AAT)). These features will now become unavailable. Meta clarified that although it will cease the use of facial recognition, it does not rule out the possibility that it will re-implement the technology in future products.

The second change concerns Facebook’s ad targeting tools. Starting January 19th, 2022, all ad targeting options that relate to sensitive topics – such as health, sexual orientation, religious practices, political beliefs, and social issues – will be removed. Simultaneously, more ad control options will be introduced, to enhance the user’s control over the types of ad content they wish to block. The new ad controls will also allow users to block ad content related to gambling and weight loss, among other things.