AUSTIN (Nexstar) — You won’t be able to use some of the fun filters on Instagram or Facebook in Texas anymore.
The change comes after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued Meta, Instagram’s parent company, alleging it uses facial recognition technology that violates Texas law and infringes upon Texans’ privacy rights.
Facial recognition was previously used by the company, but Meta discontinued it in November 2021.
“That’s sort of the heart of this lawsuit is where’s that data going? Who’s using it? are you selling that data? are you reusing it for other purposes?…If your face can be tied to other data and identify it, and those with your location, like there’s a lot that can be done,” Omar Gallaga, a tech expert said.
Paxton’s office also accuses the company’s social media platforms, like Instagram, of including facial recognition technology without the user’s permission.
Meta announced on Wednesday some filters would no longer be available in Texas, though it denies Paxton’s claims.
“The lawsuit that was filed by Texas was seeking penalties in the amount of $25,000 per person affected, which gets into the hundreds of billions of dollars,” Gallaga said.
The company sent this statement to KXAN:
“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.”
This is the lawsuit that was filed back in February, Attorney General Ken Paxton worried about Texans’ privacy.
The company also mentioned it will soon launch an “opt-in experience that explains how AR effect placement works” with plans to resume services in Texas across apps and devices.