Just because a company patents a piece of technology, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily use it in the wild. Still, it’s kind of freaking people out that Facebook patented technology that would watch you through your phone or computer’s front-facing camera, and see how you react to content.
Facebook filed for this patent in 2014, but we just learned about it recently from The Daily Dot. The idea isn’t to spy on you or to hold on to video footage of you staring at your computer or phone all day, thank goodness. The technology would watch your facial expressions as you scroll through content on Facebook.
Instead of depending on you to scroll past things or tap on the “like” button, the system would just look at you to see what you think. Then, just as Facebook’s algorithm does now, it would decide what to serve up to you next based on your mood.
“The identification of content for display by the one or more applications based upon the identified emotion type may include searching among a plurality of content items, each content item being associated with one or more emotion type,” the patent application describes.
CB Insights publicized this patent along with some other similarly invasive ideas that Facebook has had, including measuring users’ mood by their typing speeds, and generating emojis based on a user’s actual facial expression.
This kind of technology is in use all around you, or will be soon, whether you realize it or not. Consumerist noticed similar technology in use on a smart freezer case at the National Retail Federation’s Big Show in 2016, with the system set up to keep track of the age and gender of people who approach the case, as well as their facial expressions.