Facebook knows an awful lot about you; this much is obvious by now. Every message or file sent using one of its many platforms (including Instagram and WhatsApp), all of your contact lists’ details, all your log in locations, all the data associated with any apps you’ve ever had connected to your Facebook account, your political affiliation, your religious beliefs, your sexual orientation, and far more – it’s all in their hands.
It’s not altogether shocking then, as highlighted by an excellent piece in The New York Times (inspired by this thread) that the company has patents and patent applications for some rather unnerving technologies. It doesn’t mean that such tech is currently in use or is even close to existing, but it’s interesting to note what’s been proposed or, in some cases, legally snapped up by the social networking colossus.
These applications include an algorithm that uses your phone’s microphone to listen to your surroundings and absorb the electrical interference pattern being emitted by your TV set to try and work out what you’re watching or what adverts you were listening to. Another patent describes tracking your daily routine – where you eat, buy coffee, walk, and sleep – and provide notifications to others if deviations occur.
Yet another suggests looking at your online activity in order to ascertain personality traits. Whether you are more extroverted or introverted, conservative or open-minded, emotionally stable or not could potentially be revealed by nothing more than your texts and likes.
The one that’s arguably the most striking of the lot, though, is the patent application – which means it has not been granted yet – that essentially aims to predict your future. Using your online data, Facebook’s patent explains that it could be possible to approximate when you or your network members may graduate, get engaged, divorced, hired, fired, have a child or, well, when a death will occur.