Texas sues Meta over Facebook facial recognition

B.R. Shenoy

“Facebook will no longer take advantage of people and their children with the intent to turn a profit at the expense of one's safety and well-being," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

Do you recall how Facebook used to tag you in other people's pictures automatically? "Tag recommendations" could scan photographs and identify individuals based on image and face recognition.

On February 14, Texas filed a 29-page complaint against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, over a feature that automatically tagged individuals in images.

According to CBS News, the social media behemoth reportedly acquired and exploited the biometric data of millions of people in the state, both users and non-users of the network, without their permission.

"For over a decade, while holding itself out as a trusted meeting place for Texans to connect and share special moments with family and friends, Facebook was secretly capturing, disclosing, unlawfully retaining—and profiting off of—Texans' most personal and highly sensitive information: records of their facial geometries, which Texas law refers to as biometric identifiers," the complaint argues, per Reuters.

Person using mobile phonecottonbro/Pexels

Per the Wall Street Journal, Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the complaint in a state district court in Marshall, demanding hundreds of billions of dollars in civic damages.Texas is seeking a $25,000 fine for each breach of the informed consent requirement and a $10,000 fine for each violation of the state's deceptive trade practices legislation.

In November, Meta said that it was discontinuing its face recognition technology and erasing its data.

It also agreed to pay $650 million in 2020 to resolve a similar Illinois state complaint.

Asked about the case, a Meta spokesperson said: "These claims are without merit and we will defend ourselves vigorously," per Reuters.

Nearly 12 million Texans had a Facebook account as of 2011. Last year, the figure reached over 20.5 million.

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