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Why Social Media Face Filters Are Disappearing for Users in Texas and Illinois

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Social media users in Texas and Illinois found that, overnight, their favorite face filters on Instagram and Facebook had been removed. Meta, the parent company of both platforms, released a statement that it’s temporarily shutting down augmented reality technology that create face filters and avatars, which some consider to be facial recognition, in order to prevent “meritless and distracting litigation” in those states.

“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,” says the company formerly known as Facebook. Users in those states can still access filters with words or special lenses, but any filter that is considered “AR” has been removed.

The laws in question are tied specifically to facial recognition technology. In Texas, the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act bans people and companies from capturing biometric identifiers, which includes “retina or iris scan, fingerprint, voiceprint, or record of hand or face geometry” for a commercial purpose without obtaining consent. Based on this law, the Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit this week against Meta for allegedly “misusing” their facial recognition technology. 

In Illinois, the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act requires the same informed consent before capturing biometric identifiers. A recent class-action lawsuit in that state was settled for $100 million dollars, making the decision to press pause on filter technology an easy one for the social media brand.

As influencers and everyday users continue to notice that their beloved online face perfecting tools are gone, we’re sure to continue to hear from both the company and consumers who rely on them. Meta has not announced plans to reinstate them, but based on the volume of user outrage, we’re sure that they’re working hard to find a solution to confirm consent that will work for all parties involved.

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