Facebook will all but dump its controversial facial-recognition technology, which automatically identifies users in photos and videos, citing growing societal concerns about its use.
The technology automatically identifies users in photos and videos but Facebook announced on Tuesday it would delete more than 1 billion already-existing users' facial templates.
Lawyers and privacy advocates have been campaigning against the technology for years and have accused the company of misrepresenting the system to people using the social media platform.
However, facial recognition will not be dumped entirely, with the controversial technology still to be used but only for “narrow” purposes, Jerome Pesenti, vice-president of artificial intelligence at Facebook, .
"Regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” he wrote.
"Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate."
He added that more than a third of Facebook users had opted in to use facial-recognition technology.
The decision comes just a week after the company announced it would change its name to Meta, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg said reflected the company’s future as a ‘metaverse’ - a series of that let people interact with digital objects and avatars.
The removal of face recognition by the world's largest social media platform comes as the tech industry continues to face a reckoning over the ethics of using the technology.
Critics say facial-recognition technology could compromise privacy, target marginalised groups and normalise intrusive surveillance.
The technology will be limited to certain services such as helping people gain access to their locked accounts or unlock a personal device, Facebook said in the blog post.
The removal will roll out globally and is expected to be complete by December.
Facebook has been rocked by multiple scandals in the past few years over the ethics, safety and privacy of its products, including Instagram.
Facebook said facial-recognition technology had many benefits, such as providing image descriptions for people who were visually impaired.
The technology is also popular with retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes.