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Facebook webcam spying patent – Big Brother watching you

TimeOdd Stories -Facebook webcam spying patent
Big Brother

Facebook Is Watching Your Each Move

In a play reminiscent of George Orwell’s “1984,” Facebook Inc. has filed a patent that proposes a method by which it would spy on users through their webcams or smartphone cameras so the social network can better tailor content and advertising.

The patent, Techniques For Emotion Detection And Content Delivery, describes a method by which Facebook would watch users through a camera in real time as they do anything online. The technology would then ascertain users’ emotions based on facial expressions, such as if they were happy, bored or sad, and would then tailor advertising based on the determined emotion. If a user were detected to be sad, for example, the system would be able to serve an ad to make the user feel happy.

“Computing devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablets increasingly include at least one, and often more than one, imaging component, such as a digital camera,” the patent reads. “Some devices may include a front-facing camera that is positioned on the same side of the device as a display. Thus, during normal operation, a user may be looking towards the imaging component.”

Then it gets into proper Orwell territory. “However, current content delivery systems typically do not utilize passive imaging information. Thus, a need exists for a content delivery solution that takes advantage of available passive imaging data to provide content to a user with improved relevancy.”

New York-based intelligence firm CB Insights, which first spotted the patent earlier this month, sat on the fence in regard to the implications of the patent, saying in a blog postthat “On the one hand, they want to identify which content is most engaging and respond to audience’s reactions, on the other emotion-detection is technically difficult, not to mention a PR and ethical minefield.”

There’s no indication that Facebook users will one day soon wake up to find the house that Mark Zuckerberg built will be spying on them through their webcam. But the mere fact that Facebook thought so highly of the idea that it filed a patent for it is not exactly reassuring either.

What do you think?

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Written by TimeOdd

TimeOdd is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.



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