June 2016. Mark Zuckerberg, president of Facebook, the parent of Instagram, publishes a photo to congratulate the social network for reaching the figure of 500 million active users per month. In the image you can see the young CEO sitting in front of his laptop, which shows a striking detail: both the front camera and the microphone are covered with electrical tape. What reasons lead you to think that someone may be spying on you? It is very likely that the experience of the multinational company that manages the data of its users is one of them. Let's review some of the most disturbing patents of Facebook in recent years:
- I know where you are, but also where are you going
If you thought that the intrusion of technology in your private life reaches such a point who are able to know where you are at each particular moment, you're falling short. The truth is that the control they have over your movements can lead them to predict where you will be in the future. It's what a series of Facebook patents reflects, in which they describe how to forecast your next destination based on the places you have visited in the past and the routes that other users have made that share a pattern with you. In this way, they could define location chains, which could be used, according to the patent, to "send advertising to users based on locations".
- Facebook deducts if you have a partner
"Infer the degree of relationship of the users of a social network system". Under this name, the multinational filed a patent in 2014 in which it warned of its intention to predict your marital status based on the frequency with which you visit the page of other users, the number of people that appear in your profile picture and the percentage of friends of the opposite sex. Depending on each of these parameters, the social network gives a score to each user whose sum allows them to determine if they have a partner.
- Knowing your personality so you can buy more
A patent that is now six years old, but that is no less alarming. Through the linguistic analysis of everything you write on your platform, Facebook uses a trained model to predict the characteristics that make up your personality – if you are introverted, funny, very talkative or unpleasant – and offer you a more segmented publicity.
- Welcome to the era of the bubble of filters
In 2011, the internet activist Eli Pariser warned of a very present phenomenon in our days that he baptized as a filter bubble. He defined it as a digital environment in which people lose access to the sources of information with which they do not identify ideologically, which limits their understanding of the world. The filters that establish social networks to show you personalized content are based on your tastes, so they will not show you that information that they understand is not of your interest. "What's inside the bubble around you depends on who you are and what you like, but you're not the one who directly decides what goes into that bubble, algorithms do." he explained then.
A year later, Facebook presented its first patent in this line, although it has been nuanced with the passage of time. The company describes here how it uses the information about the reactions that its users have with the contents that they show them in their news feed (when they click to access an article, share it or mark it with a "like") to determine what is what interests them. "Users prefer to see news relevant to their personal interests or interesting news for users of social networks connected to them or who have relevant interests, "defended in the patent.