Facebook patent plans to scan users' photos for ads

Originally Published: April 16, 2019 Last Updated: April 16, 2019

Facebook has been awarded a patent for a technology which lets the social network scan through users' photos, see what products they like, and send the data to advertisers to be able to sell you more of the product. The patent also allows the social network to track "other demographic information" and generate a "heat map" so that the product owners can finely tune their query demographics. The official title of this patent is called Computer-vision content detection for sponsored stories'.

  • The patent suggests that for now only users with access to a person's profile—dependent on the privacy settings—would be able to look into the sponsored story. In a more detailed section, the patent alludes to a future bidding process where certain users would be able to get paid for sponsoring a certain product.
  • Facebook has been criticised for its bad track record in keeping users' data safe or being transparent about what its used for. This adds to the already existing worries regarding Facebook's mishandling of users' information.
  • There is no indication on whether Facebook users' will be able to opt out of this AI-powered micro-influencing if the patent is eventually implemented.
  • A Facebook spokesperson said: "We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications—such as this one—should not be taken as an indication of future plans."