Facebook filed three patent applications which detail technology designed to predict where its users are going, it has been revealed today.
In a report by Buzzfeed News, the three applications, filed in March, May and December 2017, show the social networking site’s ideas on how to predict where an account holder carrying a mobile device is travelling, and how this information can then be used to the site’s benefit.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harris said that “We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patent applications—such as this one—should not be taken as an indication of future plans.”
The three patents all hinge on using a Facebook account’s location data. One uses your and your friend’s data to work out if you will be heading into an area with little or no mobile signal, and will load content while it can in case you use the Facebook app while in the mobile blackspot.
The second application is based on using the relative signal strengths of various signals, such as Bluetooth, WiFi and mobile to work out your location more accurately than a normal GPS reading, then, using data from your previous trips, work out where you are likely to travel to next after this point. It would theoretically let them split users into small groups, for example, tourists and residents of a certain city.
The third develops the idea of the previous one, collating multiple users’ data points to figure out popular routes and locations linked by people stopping at them during the same journey. This, of course, could then lead to tailored adverts, trying to encourage people to follow this chain with a special deal or coupon.
As Facebook says, these ideas aren’t necessarily going to ever make it to the app. But social media companies and app developers can get a lot of value from your location data, so it makes sense that they’d want to patent these ideas should they ever want or need to use them. You can’t completely stop them, but there are some measures you can take to keep your location data out of Facebook, Google and other business’ servers.