Facebook is considering secretly watching and recording users through their webcams and smartphone cameras, a newly discovered patent suggests.
The document explains how the company would use technology to see how your facial expressions change when you come across different types of content on the site.
It would analyse those images to work out how you feel, and use the information to keep you on the site for longer.
If you smiled as you looked at pictures of one of your friends, for instance, Facebook’s algorithm would take note of that and display more pictures of that friend in your News Feed.
Another example included in the patent application explains that if you looked away from your screen when a video of a kitten played, Facebook would stop showing similar type of videos in your Feed.
In another case, the document says that if you happened to watch an advert for scotch, Facebook could choose to target you with more adverts for scotch.
The patent application was submitted in February 2014 and published in August 2015, but was only recently spotted,...
The patent also details a new text-messaging platform that would detect how hard you type, and use that information to attempt to work out how you feel.
The article said they didn't think these patents had been deployed, the above image is from a 2015 article 26 Top Smartphone Models Come With Pre-installed Spyware.
Unlike with desktop and (some) laptop computers, we're conditioned to accept cameras as an "essential" part of a smartphone -- and that's both a camera facing you and a higher-end "serious photos and videos" camera on the back.
Anyway, Facebook's desire to see our emotional reactions to things is not at all surprising, considering past revelations that they experimented with manipulating people's emotions via their newsfeed contents.
One more reason I'm not about to use Facebook anytime soon. Ditto for "smart TVs" that offer the conveniences of recognizing your voice, face, or gestures.
The old reliable advice for desktops and laptops still holds: it makes sense to cover up or unplug cameras (and unplug microphones, or turn them off if there's a trustworthy hardware switch) except when you're actually using them.