Six years ago, Facebook deactivated its facial recognition technology in Europe after regulators raised questions about its consent system. This year, the company decided to announce the reintroduction of its facial recognition tools by presenting them as a way to help users better protect their online identities. This decision, however, has already been largely criticized by privacy and consumer groups which claim Facebook has not obtained appropriate consent, which is now a requirement established by the new General Data Protection Regulation which came into force in May 2018. According to them, by promoting facial recognition as an identity protection tool, Facebook is trying to influence users and not actually being transparent about how facial recognition will benefit the company. Critics also claim that Facebook has obtained a patent, for the moment only under consideration, which will allow it to exploit the technology for scanning shoppers and get more information about their consumer habits.
It is important to consider that Facebook is hardly the only tech giant to embrace facial recognition technology. Over the last few years, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have filed facial recognition patent applications.