Facebook Moments will not launch in Europe

Facebook has announced its Moments photo-sharing app will not become available in Europe due to concerns about its facial recognition feature.

Although it is possible users will be able to opt out of facial recognition in the future, it will not be available at launch and so the company decided it was easier not to launch at all in the continent.

Richard Allen, Facebook's head of policy in Europe commented: "Regulators have told us we have to offer an opt-in choice to people to do this. We don't have an opt-in mechanism so it is turned off until we develop one."

The Facebook Moments app is designed to make it easier to share photos of things like events with the people who attended. But to do its job, it uses facial recognition to determine who you were with, matching up facial features with those of your friends on the social network.

You can manually add people you went to the event with if they aren't recognised, but this largely defeats the object of the app.

Facial recognition like the tech used in the social network's app has come under scrutiny recently, with a group of privacy organisations and government agencies meeting to discuss issues including whether a code of conduct should be developed. Nine of the organisations withdrew from the talks with the US government.

In a joint statement, they said: "At a base minimum, people should be able to walk down a public street without fear that companies they've never heard of are tracking their every movement - and identifying them by name - using facial recognition technology. Unfortunately, we have been unable to obtain agreement even with that basic, specific premise."

Google rolled out its Photos app last month, which also includes facial recognition. Although the app is available around he world, the facial recognition feature is not enabled on the European version.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.