Black Americans more worried about police use of facial recognition than white, Hispanic Americans, poll finds

Black Americans more worried about police use of facial recognition than white, Hispanic Americans, poll finds

top line

Only 22% of black Americans say the use of facial recognition technology will lead to safer policing, significantly fewer than the 36% of white Americans and 40% of Hispanic Americans who believe it does, according to a new Pew Research Center survey, which exposed criticism of the technology as racially biased. .

Basic information

Overall, 34% of 10,260 respondents, who were surveyed in November, said facial recognition technology would make policing safer, while 40% said it would make no difference.

Among black adults, 48% said police would use facial recognition to monitor black and Hispanic neighborhoods “much more than in other neighborhoods,” compared with 18% and 37% of white and Hispanic respondents, respectively.

Black adults are also more likely than white and Hispanic adults to report false arrests by police using more elaborate facial recognition technology.

Earlier this year, three senators called on federal agencies to stop using facial recognition technology developed by Clearview AI, a company backed by billionaire Peter Thiel, which is worth $130 million.

Original background

Facial recognition technology has long been criticized for racial bias and discrimination. In 2019, a landmark federal study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that, depending on the algorithm being tested, African American and Asian men were 10 to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men. Law enforcement use of facial recognition technology has become fairly widespread, with 20 of the 42 federal agencies employing law enforcement officers in 2021 using it. The potential biases of AI systems when combined with a policing system that has a racial history are of additional concern. Bias, especially against black men. In the past few years, there have been several well-documented cases where black men were wrongly arrested based on facial recognition technology.

Key words

“While suspicion of communities of color has historical roots that span decades, new developments such as facial recognition technology (FRT) and machine learning algorithms have greatly increased the precision and scope of potential surveillance,” reads a Brookings Institute paper from April.


Law enforcement officials have repeatedly emphasized that facial recognition can be a helpful tool in investigations and should not be primary evidence of an arrest.

Read more

A “threat to black communities”: Senators call on immigration police and FBI to end use of ClearView facial recognition (Forbes)

How Black Americans View Police Use of Facial Recognition Technology (Pew Research Center)

How AI-Based Wrongful Arrest Derailed 3 Men’s Lives (wired)

Police surveillance and facial recognition: Why data privacy is essential for communities of color (Brookings Institute)

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