Does Facebook plan to watch you through your webcam and the phone’s camera? » Manila Bulletin Technology



By Patrick Christian Bonifacio

Social media giant Facebook has been running targeted advertising for a long time now and things might get a little weirder. Just recently, CB Insights, a market intelligence firm, discovered a patent filed by Facebook in 2015 and granted in May 25, for technology to monitor users through webcams and cameras on mobile devices. There’s no clear statement what this patent will be used for (improving ads?) or if the technology will be implemented at all.

In a report published by CB Insights, the idea was described as active monitoring of a user through a camera in real time. Facial recognition software and algorithms would then read the user’s facial expressions, and determine their current emotions or mood.
After evaluating the user’s mood, Facebook would then display targeted ads accordingly. For example, if the algorithm detects sadness or sorrow, the website would show ads that would likely lighten the user’s mood.

Another possible implementation of user surveillance for targeted advertising include listening in on conversations through a microphone, then picking up on key words that would then lead to related advertisements.

Other methods which would not involve the use of a webcam include a supposed advanced method of keylogging, which will measure the rate at which users type and see whether or not emojis are found in messages and/or status updates.

This does raise more than a few questions with regards to user privacy and the ethics involved. In the same report as mentioned above, CB Insights commented that the practice would be a “PR and ethical minefield.” Facebook has come under fire in the past for privacy-related concerns.

CB Insights is a New York-based market intelligence firm that aggregates data and uses machine learning and algorithms in order to predict technology trends. The firm also engages in qualitative analysis of upcoming technology.

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