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
Chinoy of the New
York Times looked at
some of the patents Facebook has applied for and the results he
discovered are very creepy.
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.
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.
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
response is that its patents should not be used to judge what its
future products will be. They say that most of the technology cited
in the patents will never be used.
it does show their intense desire to capture every possible detail
of what we do, how we look and what we're thinking. And Facebook is
doing this in the face of heavy criticism that it's already
collecting too much personal information.
striking about these revelations is they want to weaponize our
phones to spy on us through the cameras and microphone.
M. Schultz, a law professor at New York University, was quoted in
the article. “A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks
about where its technology is going," he said.
are some of the specific patents discussed in the New York
whether you’re in a romantic relationship by monitoring how often
you visit another user’s page and the number of friends you have
of the opposite gender
your posts to determine your personality traits, including
defective pixels or lens scratches on your camera to find a
connection with someone else who might be using the same camera
interference in the electrical power cable running to your TV to
figure out what program is playing
your phone’s location in the middle of the night to capture your
that Facebook has two billion active users, imagine the data they
are amassing. If just a couple of these patents are put to practice,
it dramatically increases the personal knowledge they will have
about their subscribers. And from previous revelations, they are
just as interested in learning personal details about those of us
who don't use Facebook by gaining that information from our friends
that are on Facebook.