Facebook patents - part 2. Facebook isn't quite the company many think it is - they know more about you than you really want them to know.

background 100By Staff

January 7th, 2019


Part two Facebook patents

Facebook is everywhere – even though the enthusiasm for the service is waning in some sectors.

Hugely popular it is now getting a much closer look due to the impact Facebook is believed to have had on the US 2016 Presidential election ans the decision in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

The depth of the data Facebook has collected and their ability and willingness to package that data to meet the needs of corporate and political interests is now so rampant that Congress is considering some form of regulation on how Facebook collects data, often without the permission of the Facebook user.

Facebook recently applied for a number of patents.  We described four in part 1 of this two part series.  Here are three other patent applications

Listening to your environment
listening graphic

This patent application explores using your phone microphone to identify the television shows you watched and whether ads were muted.

It also proposes using the electrical interference pattern created by your television power cable to guess which show is playing.

It wants to correlate media consumption data with user profiles.  U.S. PATENT APPLICATION NO. 14/985,089

Tracking your routine
tracking routine

Another patent application discusses tracking your weekly routine and sending notifications to other users of deviations from the routine. In addition, it describes using your phone’s location in the middle of the night to establish where you live.

The focus would appear to be on routine deviation notification and inferring your habits based on the data they collect.

Think about that for a moment – is this what you want social media doing with the data you let them collect?  U.S. PATENT APPLICATION NO. 15/203,063
Inferring your habits

This patent proposes correlating the location of your phone to locations of your friends’ phones to deduce whom you socialize with most often.

It also proposes monitoring when your phone is stationary to track how many hours you sleep.  The objective would appear to be to gather statistics for continuous location tracking. U.S. PATENT NO. 9,369,983

In some cases, companies file patents defensively, to beat their rivals to a new technology, even if they have no intention of using it.

While that could be the case for some of Facebook’s patents, many of them imagine new ways to collect, analyze and use personal information and package it for advertisers — a process that is essential to the company’s business model.

In the first quarter of 2018, almost 99 percent of Facebook’s revenue came from advertising.

As long as Facebook keeps collecting personal information, we should be wary that it could be used for purposes more insidious than targeted advertising, including swaying elections or manipulating users’ emotions, said Jennifer King, the director of consumer privacy at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. “There could be real consequences,” she said.

Other technology companies have filed unsettling patent applications, too. They include Amazon’s wristbands for tracking warehouse employees and the Google teddy bear equipped with a camera and a microphone.

But with more than two billion monthly active users, most of whom share their thoughts and feelings on the platform, Facebook is amassing our personal details on an unprecedented scale. That isn’t likely to change, said Siva Vaidhyanathan, a professor of media studies at the University of Virginia. “I’ve seen no indication that Facebook has changed its commitment to watch everything we do, record everything we do and exploit everything we do,” he said.

There are people who no longer use Facebook as a platform.  The Gazette posts every story it publishes to its own Facebook page.  The comments that appear on the Facebook page have nowhere near the clarity and depth that those made by involved readers in the Gazette comments section.

A significant number of people follow the Gazette via Facebook

Each story the Gazette publishes is also sent out as a tweet.

Part 1 of this two part series.

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1 comment to Facebook patents – part 2. Facebook isn’t quite the company many think it is – they know more about you than you really want them to know.

  • Stephen White

    Scary stuff! Reads like a cross between George Orwell’s “1984” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. Anyone concerned about privacy, data integrity and individual freedoms should be deeply concerned about these trends. I seldom used my Facebook account, but went in this morning to delete the darn thing.

    Thanks to the Burlington Gazette for sharing this perspective and insights!