Facial Recognition: Advantages and Disadvantages

A facial recognition system is a biometric technology used for mapping the facial features of an individual, the patterns in his or her face, and other relevant cues such as facial textures or skin tones from a digital image or a live video feed. The main purpose of this technology centers on identity storage and identity verification. It involves a combination of mathematical analysis and artificial intelligence, including machine learning and computer vision in some cases, to collect or store, retrieve, and process biometric data. Note that sophisticated systems use more advanced imaging techniques such as photometry and LiDAR. This article lists and discusses the pros and cons or advantages and disadvantages of facial recognition.

Pros: Advantages and Applications of Facial Recognition System

Central to the advantage of facial recognition is that it enables the computerized and automated processing of biometric data based on the digital image or live video feed of a person for a variety of purposes or applications. Below are the advantages:

1. Security Through Biometrics Authentication: One of the benefits or advantages of a facial recognition system centers on its application in biometrics security. It can be a component of the identification and access control systems in organizations and in personal or consumer electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and personal computers.

2. Automated Image Recognition Feature: The system can enable automated image recognition capabilities. Consider Facebook as an example. This social media platform can recognize photos of its users and allow automatic tagging. Modern smartphones also have a feature that recognizes faces and has included it as part of their advanced camera features.

3. Deployment in Security and Law Enforcement: Another key advantage of facial recognition is that it can be applied in security systems and law enforcement. This is related to its biometrics application and its automated image recognition feature. A system that profiles individuals based on their faces allows less intrusive monitoring and identification.

4. Enhances Human-Computer Interaction: The system also supports modern virtual reality and augmented reality applications. Filters in Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok are based on both AR and facial recognition technologies. Newer mixed reality headsets demonstrate how technologies for recognizing faces can facilitate human-computer interactions.

5. Equips Devices with Added Functionalities: It is also worth noting that equipping devices with facial recognition capabilities means expanding their features and capabilities further. An iPhone uses the same technology for its Face ID biometrics security, supporting augmented reality, and various camera features or computational photography capabilities.

Cons: Disadvantages and Limitations of Facial Recognition System

Nevertheless, Despite the aforementioned advantages and application, facial recognition system has drawbacks and limitations revolving around concerns over its effectiveness and controversial applications. Take note of the following disadvantages:

1. Issues About Reliability and Efficiency: A notable disadvantage of facial recognition system is that it is less reliable and efficient than other biometric systems such as fingerprints. Factors such as illumination, expression, image or video quality, and software and hardware capabilities, can affect its reliability or accuracy and overall system performance.

2. Further Reports About Its Reliability: Several reports have pointed out the ineffectiveness of some systems. An advocacy organization noted that the systems used by law enforcement in the United Kingdom had an accuracy rate of only 2 percent. Implementations in London and Florida did not result in better law enforcement according to another report.

3. Concerns About Possible Racial Bias: A study by the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that the Rekognition technology from Amazon failed nearly 40 percent false matches in tests that involved people of color. The system has been criticized for perpetuating racial bias due to false matches. This is another disadvantage of facial recognition technology.

4. Varied Performance Across Different Systems: The capabilities of a particular system are also dependent on the underlying technologies. Some Android smartphones have an inferior or a less reliable system because they depend on the front-facing cameras. iPhones and iPads have a better implementation because they use infrared for three-dimensional mapping.

5. Possible Concerns With Privacy Laws: Possible conflict with privacy rights is also another key disadvantage of facial recognition. Illinois has a Biometric Information Privacy Act that requires affirmative consent for companies to collect biometric data. The fact that the system is used for mass identification has also been criticized for mass surveillance and profiling.


  • Big Brother Watch. 2018. Face Off: The Lawless Growth of Facial Recognition in UK Policing. London: Big Brother Watch. Available via PDF
  • Krause, M. 2002. “Is Face Recognition Just High-Tech Snake Oil? Enter Stage Right. The Independence Institute. ISSN: 1488-1756
  • Snow, J. 2018. “Amazon’s Face Recognition Falsely Matched 28 Members of Congress With Mugshots.” ACLU. American Civil Liberties Union. Available online