- The decision, announced Tuesday, is "stupid" former world chess champion Garry Kasparov told CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference.
- "It's bowing to this public outrage," Kasparov said Wednesday. "Personally, I think it's stupid for a simple reason: Facebook can shut it down, the Chinese will not."
- Kasparov says he is pro-technology and against overregulation.
LISBON, Portugal — Facebook is wrong to shut down its facial recognition system, according to Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation.
The decision, announced Tuesday, is "stupid" Kasparov told CNBC at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon.
"It's bowing to this public outrage," Kasparov said Wednesday, just days after Facebook rebranded itself to Meta. "Personally, I think it's stupid for a simple reason: Facebook can shut it down, the Chinese will not."
Facebook did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.
Born into what was then the Soviet Union, Kasparov became the youngest ever undisputed World Chess Champion in 1985 at age 22. In 1997 he became the first world champion to lose a match to a computer: IBM's Deep Blue.
Today, he says he is pro-technology and against overregulation.
"Any technological feature that's available, for me, it doesn't make any sense to block it," Kasparov said. Privacy campaigners would strongly disagree.
He added: "It's insane to think that in the era of global internet, you can actually start forcing companies in America or in Europe to follow these rules and to abandon new features."
The decision to shut down the facial recognition system on Facebook comes amid a barrage of news reports over the past month after Frances Haugen, a former employee turned whistleblower, released a trove of internal company documents to news outlets, lawmakers and regulators.
Facebook said in a blogpost that there are "many concerns" about the use of facial recognition technology in society, noting how regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use.
"Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate," the social media giant said.
Ending the use of the face recognition system is part of "a company-wide move away from this kind of broad identification," Facebook said.
In 2012, Facebook acquired Israeli start-up Face.com for reportedly under $100 million, snapping up a team of developers who focused on facial recognition for mobile apps. The deal came just months after Facebook acquired Instagram, CEO Mark Zuckerberg's biggest effort at the time to move the business to mobile.
In July 2020, the company agreed to pay a $650 million settlement after it was sued for collecting and storing biometric data without first getting user consent, which is prohibited by the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act.
- Additional reporting by CNBC's Salvador Rodriguez.