Creepy Patents Show Facebook's Relentless Drive to Track Every Detail of Users' Lives
One of the best ways to gather intelligence on what a company is up to is to look at the patents they’ve applied for and have received. While some companies apply for patents for ideas they never use, or to block a competitor from using the idea, the patents provide a good indication of what’s important to a company, because patents can cost many tens of thousands of dollars apiece for worldwide coverage.
Sahil Chinoy of the New York Times looked at some of the patents Facebook has applied for and the results he discovered are very creepy.
One of the patents describes the use of the forward-facing camera in your cell phone to figure out how you feel from your expressions while you're reading your Facebook feed. Apparently, clicking a "like" or "dislike" button is not good enough for them.
Another patent proposes listening to you and your surroundings using the microphone in your phone. The patent describes using the mic to listen to the TV show you’re watching in the background, listen to what you’re talking about, and track your sleeping patterns.
According to the article, their review of hundreds of patent applications filed by Facebook “reveals that the company has considered tracking almost every aspect of its users’ lives: where you are, who you spend time with, whether you’re in a romantic relationship, which brands and politicians you’re talking about. The company has even attempted to patent a method for predicting when your friends will die.”