Some social media filters have been banned in Texas and Illinois. Here’s why
Lawsuits against Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, have been filed in Texas and Illinois, claiming the company is abusing the use of biometric data
Residents of Texas haven’t had access to augmented reality face filters since last week. This is not a glitch, but a product of a lawsuit Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed against Meta, the parent company of Facebook.
This is similar to a lawsuit filed in Illinois last year, where filters have also been banned, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Why is there a lawsuit? Paxton is suing Meta, claiming that the company is breaking Texas’ Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act by learning people’s faces and biometrics without their consent, according to a Texas CBS and NBC affiliate.
Are all filters banned? Only augmented reality filters are banned. Filters that simply change the color of an image are still allowed.
- Once users leave the states in which these filters are banned, they will have access to them again, according to CBS.
What are AR filters? AR intertwines virtual elements with the real world. These filters “generate effects that are superimposed on a user’s face, or on other real-world objects,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
- “In Instagram’s case, users can click on different AR filters to add virtual makeup, tattoos, sunglasses, different hair color or even an animal sitting on a user’s head,” the Austin American-Statesman reports.
Meta denies the claims: Last year, Meta announced it would be shutting down its facial recognition software that recognizes faces in photos and videos.
- Following the lawsuit, Meta has denied Paxton’s claims, stating, “The technology we use to power augmented reality effects like avatars and filters is not facial recognition or any technology covered by the Texas and Illinois laws, and is not used to identify anyone. 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. We remain committed to delivering AR experiences that people love, and that a diverse roster of creators use to grow their businesses, without needless friction or confusion,” according to ABC News.
- Axios reports that Meta plans to develop an “opt-in” system, where it will explain how the technology behind the filters work, and will then continue offering filters in the banned states.