Link Repaired, NYT Moved the Article.
A review of hundreds of Facebook’s patent applications 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 die. Taken together, Facebook’s patents show a commitment to collecting personal information, despite widespread public criticism of the company’s privacy policies and a promise from its chief executive to “do better.”
“A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks about where its technology is going,” said Jason M. Schultz, a law professor at New York University.
One patent application discusses predicting whether you’re in a romantic relationship using information such as how many times you visit another user’s page [and] the number of people in your profile picture. Another proposes using your posts and messages to infer personality traits … then using those characteristics to select which news stories or ads to display.
Another patent application discusses tracking your weekly routine and sending notifications to other users of deviations from the routine. In addition, it describes using your phone’s location in the middle of the night to establish where you live. As long as Facebook keeps collecting personal information, we should be wary.
Tip of the Hat to Contributing Editor Norie Huddle.