Facebook has patented a technology to scan users’ photos for products in the hope of selling more targeted advertising.
The patent was awarded for ‘Computer-vision content detection for sponsored stories.’ First up, don’t you just love how Facebook calls ads ‘sponsored stories’? What a stroke of marketing and corporate evil genius that is. Second up, this tech applies ‘computer vision algorithms to user-uploaded multimedia objects to detect specific objects within the multimedia object, and promoting the uploaded multimedia object from a users’ news feed to a sponsored stories area.’
The patent is probably based on the AI-powered photo scanning tool ‘Rosetta’ that was developed by Facebook last year to scan texts written inside photos. The tool can scan billions of photos to better learn different image texts, including brand labels.
In short, it means if you post a selfie where you’re wearing a Nike hoodie outside McDonalds on Facebook or Facebook owed Instagram, you can bet Nike and McDonald’s will be sponsoring some stories on your timeline soon. Given Facebook’s track record, the data of all your friends will probably been taken and sold too and all photos from your device will be extracted and given to Rosetta to see what other products you’ve come in contact with.
According to the patent filed, whenever a Facebook user clicks a photo with any branded item, the AI tool will scan it and forward it to that particular brand. The patent highlights that Facebook can also use the photos you post to track ‘other demographic information,’ by looking through your photos and generate a ‘heat map’ with filters so product owners may finely tune their query demographics.
While patents are applied for all the time and the products never get made, this one seems so precisely up Facebook’s creepy street. Here’s a mad idea, how about not posting any photos on Facebook? Or better yet, why not just delete your account. You’ll feel better. The company will still stalk you over the internet, but at least you won’t have to look at their non-stop stream of sponsored stories.