The plot thickens for Facebook’s facial recognition technology as the company deals with opposition on local and continental levels. Facebook announced on Tuesday that its private photo-sharing app Facebook Moments is now available in every country on the planet with a modified version launching in the E.U. and Canada. That version strips the app of the feature that uses facial recognition technology to suggest which friends to share with. The technology identifies who appears in photos.
While users in the E.U. and Canada might see the lack of this feature as somewhat of a “first world problem,” the launch signifies a broader move on the part of Facebook. The company has spent years embroiled in various courts in Europe for its privacy practices, and this instance is no different. Courts in both Canada and the E.U. ruled that the company’s photo-tagging system violates privacy law, so Facebook delayed the launch of Moments until it could comply with courts.
Indeed, the company has had to deal with more rigorous investigations and probes on its privacy practices since the Snowden leaks of 2013, which spawned global suspicion of American technology companies. And even at home, Facebook is dealing with backlash against its facial recognition tech. Blouin News reported last week on how the company is facing a lawsuit challenging its use of facial data.
Despite these challenges, the Moments app is largely successful. This issue for Facebook is less about the app itself, and more about a hugely popular tech company using biometric data — something the E.U. is clearly keen on monitoring.