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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Strategic CSR - Facebook

The article in the url below reveals the fascinating extent of Facebook's plans to better understand our online behavior:
"Facebook has filed thousands of patent applications since it went public in 2012. One of them describes using forward-facing cameras to analyze your expressions and detect whether you're bored or surprised by what you see on your feed. Another contemplates using your phone's microphone to determine which TV show you're watching. Others imagine systems to guess whether you're getting married soon, predict your socioeconomic status and track how much you're sleeping."
The goal is to record, and therefore understand, every aspect of our online lives – from our political voting preferences, to our sexual orientation, to our marital and employment status, to our deep-seated biases and prejudices. Of course, Facebook would say the purpose of these ideas is to build a better product that more effectively meets our needs. Critics, of course, point out that it really allows Facebook to sell more useful information that advertisers can use to target us:
"In the first quarter of 2018, almost 99 percent of Facebook's revenue came from advertising."
And this ignores the argument that more tailored news and information the reinforces pre-existing beliefs and biases is exactly what we do not need as a society at the moment. The article features "seven Facebook patent applications that show how the company has contemplated gathering and exploiting your personal information." Here is one example of a patent that identifies small flaws in your camera lens to connect friends and acquaintances:
"[One patent] considers analyzing pictures to create a unique camera 'signature' using faulty pixels or lens scratches. That signature could be used to figure out that you know someone who uploads pictures taken on your device, even if you weren't previously connected. Or it might be used to guess the 'affinity' between you and a friend based on how frequently you use the same camera."
Why does this matter?
"… with more than two billion monthly active users, most of whom share their thoughts and feelings on the platform, Facebook is amassing our personal details on an unprecedented scale."
Take care
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Your Life, Patented by Facebook
By Sahil Chinoy
June 24, 2018
The New York Times
Late Edition – Final