Facebook's Patented Technology Spies Through Your Camera and Responds to Your Expressions

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August 22, 2017

Earlier this year, Facebook, Inc. patented a new technology that watches its users through device cameras, such as front-facing cameras commonly found on cell phones and other mobile devices, to detect the user's emotions and facial expressions as the user browses content on Facebook's social network. The patent (U.S. Patent No. 9,681,166) was issued on June 13, 2017 and is titled "Techniques for Emotion Detection and Content Delivery."

The technology is described as being capable of detecting the emotions of a user by watching and analyzing facial expressions as the user scrolls through content on Facebook. The application can use the detected emotion to "tag" the content or to decide what content to display next.

For instance, detected emotions from a number of different users can be used to determine crowd-sourced emotional responses to content. As an example, when a certain amount of users (such as 75%) exhibit laughter when viewing an article, the article may be automatically tagged as being funny.

A user's detected emotional state may be used by the social network to determine what content or advertisements to display next. For example, if a user's facial expression is detected as being bored, Facebook may automatially display funny content or interactive advertisements in an attempt to capture the user's attention. As another example, if a user appears sad, uplifting and happy content or advertisements may be displayed on the user's network feed.

It should be noted that just because a piece of technology is patented, that does not necessarily mean that it is being implemented in the real world. So, while there is no indication that Facebook is currently using the patented emotion detection technology today, similar technology may be or will be implemented soon.

You can access other articles on this topic by the Consumerist and The Daily Dot.