This Creepy Facebook Patent Depicts Stalking Family Photos For Demographic Targeting

Some people look to their horror movie collection for a good scare, but others can just look at the realities of privacy invasion online. We're continually being tracked by companies all over the internet that use collected information for targeted marketing. This goes beyond simply seeing an ad for something you freely posted about or even searched online, but ads that come out of nowhere that seem to perfectly target you.

The more you post on your social media accounts, the more information is technically out there about you. Facebook is arguably one of the biggest breach of privacy offenders on the planet, having disclosed numerous security breach incidents over the years - and especially earlier this year when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. Now, the social media giant is trying to patent more invasive technology to sum you and your family up, based on things like shared photos, shared IP address use, and even your device information.

facebook user data breach bounty

Use a Moto G? Facebook could gauge that you're not interested in shelling out a huge premium for a flagship smartphone, and subsequently only market similarly priced phones - and vice versa for iPhone X or Samsung Galaxy users. Shared IP addresses will of course tell Facebook without question who else is living at your address and coupled with pictures, the patent describes building a family tree of sorts.

Facebook Family Patent
Facebook Patent Diagram - USPTO

Facebook's patent doesn't detail what sorts of demographic information its system could predict or build. However, you can imagine it could pull together high level details like age, gender, and the number of each per household. In addition, earlier this year, Facebook rolled out ad targeting for entire households and the company garners that information from shared last names, home location, check-in posts and other life events. There's no question, Facebook is a treasure trove of user information and the mechanics of this patent only underscore how deep they can go.

On Facebook, every little tidbit of information on you is connected to another bit of information somewhere else in the system. The somewhat creepy thing is that the capabilities and robustness of these automated processes are only getting better. It might be worth noting that Facebook submitted this patent application before its privacy scandals earlier this year, but given what we've seen from the company following those events, we've been given little assurance that situation will actually improve.