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Governments must check if Facebook really does scrap face recognition, according to a Facebook whistleblower


Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen applauded the social network's announcement that it would eliminate facial recognition, but she called for close government oversight to ensure the company followed through on its promise.

Facebook made the announcement on Tuesday, partly in response to increased regulatory and legislative scrutiny of its platforms' user safety and abuses. Faceprinting has been criticized by activists as a serious threat to privacy.

"I strongly support government oversight," said Haugen.

"What does it mean when they say we've gotten rid of this?" she wondered. "There needs to be more transparency in how these operations operate in order to ensure that they are carried out properly."

The whistleblower, who leaked a trove of damaging documents about Facebook's inner workings, added that the European Union's and Britain's "principles-based" regulation was more effective in constraining technology companies than the US's more rigid rules-based approach, ahead of a meeting with Germany's justice minister.

Europe also had a key role to play in ensuring that Facebook's content monitoring in languages other than English improved.

In the aftermath of the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, Facebook has been chastised for failing to act against hate speech in languages ranging from Burmese to Greek, despite increasing its monitoring of English-language posts.

"A linguistically diverse place like Europe can be a voice for everyone who doesn't speak English around the world," she said. "The truth is that Facebook has significantly underinvested in safety and security systems for languages other than English."