May 10, 2022 - Technology

Meta to disable AR filters in Texas, Illinois

Illustration of a collage of a face being zoomed focused on with artificial intelligence framing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Facebook has turned off augmented reality effects, including filters and avatars, for users in Texas and Illinois, citing state facial recognition laws.

The big picture: The move comes a day after Clearview AI settled with the ACLU and other groups in a lawsuit brought under Illinois' uniquely strong facial recognition law.

  • Facebook-parent Meta says it doesn't believe its AR technology counts as facial recognition under Illinois or Texas law, and notes it turned off its facial recognition technology last year.

Details: Meta says that users in those states will see a “temporarily unavailable” message when accessing such features across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Portal.

  • Meta said it plans to create a new, opt-in system, explaining how its effects work and then will resume offering the features in Texas and Illinois.

Between the lines: Meta maintains it doesn't believe the technology runs afoul of those states' facial recognition laws, according to a Meta spokesperson, but cites an increasingly litigious environment.

What they're saying: 'The technology we use to power augmented reality effects like masks, avatars, and filters is not facial recognition or any technology covered by the Texas and Illinois laws, and is not used to identify anyone,' the spokesperson said in a statement to Axios.

  • "Nevertheless, we are taking this step to prevent meritless and distracting litigation under laws in these two states based on a mischaracterization of how our features work."
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