Why did Texas ban certain Instagram filters?

INSTAGRAM users typically have the ability to enhance or change their images with different face filters.

On Wednesday, May 11, 2022, Meta removed various Instagram filters related to facial recognition in Texas.

Why did Texas ban certain Instagram filters?

On February 14, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit against Meta, accusing the company of not properly using its facial recognition technology.

Within the lawsuit, Paxton alleges Meta keeps Texans' biometric information stored within their system without consent – something he says they cannot do.

According to Paxton, specific face filters break the Texas Capture or Use Biometric Identifier Act and cannot be used within state lines.

Filters that only change the background or coloring of an image are still allowed, as long as no facial geometry is recorded.

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Have any other states issued a filter ban?

Another ban against augmented reality filters went live in Illinois.

The Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act is related closely to the act in Texas, with similar laws surrounding facial geometry existing in both states.

Facebook settled a class-action lawsuit within the state of Illinois in April of 2022.

The lawsuit alleged that the Meta company "collected and stored biometric data of Facebook users in Illinois without proper notice or consent."

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Settlement checks have been issued to "Facebook users located in Illinois for whom Facebook created and stored a face template after June 7, 2011."

What did Meta say about the filter ban?

Meta released a statement related to the new filter ban in Texas and Illinois, per KHOU.

"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," wrote the company.

"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."

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The statement continued: "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."

Meta has acknowledged they will soon allow users to opt into using the facial recognition technology but did not reveal when that option will become available.

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