Instagram filters disabled in Texas during facial-recognition lawsuit

Instagram has quietly disabled its filters for users in Texas, thanks to a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Ken Paxton that alleged their facial-recognition technology violated state law and residents’ privacy rights.

In the lawsuit, Paxton claimed that Meta, Instagram’s parent company, “unlawfully captured the biometric identifiers of Texans for a commercial purpose without their informed consent, disclosed those identifiers to others and failed to destroy” that information.

The lawsuit was filed in February, and Meta, which also owns Facebook, said it stopped using facial recognition in November 2021.

But the company said in a statement this week, “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.

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“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 [augmented reality] experiences that people love, and that a diverse roster of creators use to grow their businesses, without needless friction or confusion.”

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Meta insists “avatars and filters” are not generated by facial-recognition technology on Instagram.
Getty Images/Photononstop RF

Users can also expect to see “opt-in experience that explains how AR effect placement works” with plans to resume services in Texas across apps and devices, Meta explained.

No word on when those Instagram filters will be available to Texas users again.

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