Facebook Using Data to Push Ads Based on Your Photos

Facebook wants a patent for technology that studies your photos in hopes of getting more clues into who you live with.

The social media giant filed a patent for an algorithm that would analyze photos, and then use the information for advertisement targeting. The patent was filed in May 2017, but was made public this week.

Just like Google, Facebook uses target advertising to help deliver advertisements to users that it thinks might be relevant to them.

However it seems that there is a potential that in the future, Facebook could come up with more types of targeted advertisements based on your family photos in which it tries to determine your demographic to come up with suited advertisements.


Creepy Feature

This creepy feature would analyze elements of a user’s picture, like faces, tags, descriptions and IP addresses, then cross-reference the information to build a profile of a household.

Facebook even offered a hypothetical example of a male user who routinely posts pictures with the same two female subjects. In this example, one of the females is a young girl, and the male user has included a caption that reads “my angel.”

Using just that info, Facebook would be able to deduce that the pictures included the man’s wife and daughter.

And Facebook would then be able to give that information to advertisers.

Of course, this patent would only cover photos that are shared by users, and nothing from their private messages. Also, just because Facebook filed for a patent doesn’t mean this tool will ever become a reality.

But it’s still unsettling to think of the company analyzing pictures of our loved ones this closely.

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How the system would learn about your family?

  • Facebook already uses your relationships, last names, and shared life events to predict who might be your family members.
  • But, this particular system takes a more sophisticated approach and looks for faces in photos that could reveal how they are related to you.
  • It would also collate information like captions, comments, or even tags like #family, #mom, #kids.

Despite the company’s commercials that claim they’ve refocused on building a community, it appears Facebook is still in the business of making money off of your personal data — they’re just changing the way they collect it.

What other information this system could sneak from photos?

Apart from whom you’re living with, the patent doesn’t highlight what other demographic information it could mine.

However, going by Facebook’s data policy, it could be gender, age, or socioeconomic status.

The company could build entire household profiles and then use shared interests to target those members who are on Facebook.

However, no word on actual implementation

Facebook already has an option to target entire households with advertisements. It is imperative to note that there is no guarantee if the system will actually come into use. Its just a patent at this stage. One filed well before Facebook’s recent privacy-related debacles. And the social network could very well not implement it at all.

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Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha, commonly known as "nav", loves to read, play badminton, play the keyboard and sing but when she's not doing any of those, she loves to write. What started as a high school hobby to write is now her ongoing passion.

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