With the debate on filters being a harmful tool or not, Texas has enacted a change that establishes its stance on the matter.
CBS 19 reports that the city’s Attorney General sued Meta — Instagram’s parent company — in February for its “misuse of their facial recognition technology.” On May 11, as a result, Texas fans of Instagram’s filters are no longer able to use a handful of its selection.
While many use filters with no foul intent, it appears that they go against the Texas Capture or Use of Biometric Identifier Act — facial recognition laws which were emplaced to keep social media companies like Meta from tagging users without consent.
“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,” the Communications team at Meta shared in a statement, according to the outlet. “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.”
The update has removed all filters that use facial geometry, but people in the two states are still able to select ones that only adjust the image color or background.
In the eyes of those who backed the lawsuits, they may have believed that they were protecting the states’ citizens. But, on the opposing side, it raises the question of whether it’s taking the fun out of social media, as well as taking away users’ choice to use the filters or not. Currently, Texas and Illinois have made this charge against Meta, but other states following suit is a possibility in the cards.