Mike the Psych's Blog

What if psychologists ruled the world? In real life?


Facebook – yet another intrusion into your privacy

Yes they want to spy on your facial features in real-time so they can judge your mood and target you with relevant adverts. Just split up? Have some booze. Where will it end?

Facebook was granted  a patent in 2015 for emotion-detection software that will allow them to discreetly take control of your phone or computer camera while you are browsing so they can analyse your emotions. Then they can serve you uplifting adverts. Or manipulate you in other ways of course. They will be spying on you without your knowledge.

Facebook calls this spyware “passive imaging data” which means its taking footage when you’ve not got your device switched on. Then an algorithm (they love their algorithms at Facebook (and Amazon too for that matter) decides if you are happy sad or bored.

Facebook has continued in its quest to analyse your emotions and manipulate you by getting patents that analyses how hard and fast you type  and adjust the font size or change the emoji to reflect your mood. In fact the have another where they analyse your facial expression instead.

They’ve already been criticised for telling advertisers that it could identify when teenagers felt insecure” or “worthless” and in need of a confidence boost.

You have to ask about Facebook‘s ethics here. Never mind that fact that they are lax in closing down jihadis and hate sites, relying on the public rather than employing enough people to monitor the platform, this is yet another intrusion into your personal space.

Zuckerberg is a messianic about this believing that no-one should have any boundaries and we should all share information (except himself). It’s time Facebook and the other tech companies learnt to respect their users a bit more.

If the government did this there would be an uproar. Companies like Facebook try to operate globally so they can avoid legal restrictions (and tax).

Part of this I blame on the freebie culture and sense of entitlement among young people. If they had to pay for Facebook directly (rather than through the advertising revenue Facebook generates) they might think differently. However given they way they voted in the recent general election I doubt it. One day they will realise that nothing in life is free.

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Electronic tagging – the Facebook way

Facebook has done it again. Imposed new technology without asking you. This time it’s software which automatically identifies faces in your photographs starting with all your “friends”.

And you can only untag them after they have been published online. Another example of reducing your privacy by default but that’s par for the course for Zuckerberg.

He believes everything should be out in the open except his own info – you can’t “friend” him. And he clearly believes it’s easier to seek forgiveness than seek permission.

Zuckerberg relies on consumer inertia ie people can’t be bothered to change or cancel things, and using “opt out” processes rather than an “opt in” one that privacy campaigners say Facebook should offer.

I never though I would find anything good to say about the EU bureaucrats but their regulators on the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party are apparently going to investigate.

There are other pieces of software that do the same thing. Apple offers a similar service in iPhoto but there you have to choose the faces you want recognising and then confirm each name tag and it’s not an on-line service.

This is the reason I don’t like Facebook. They ask you for your data and then they own you. I have a choice on Linkedin and Twitter doesn’t ask for any personal details but Zuckerberg wants everything about you put online.

Some might say more fool you for having an account in the first place.

The Sunday Times did a big piece on this yesterday (12/6/11) and revealed that Google has filed a patent application for face recognition software to help identify celebrities. It could theoretically be used to identify anyone by scanning social networking sites for matches.

Before you know it those strangers with the camera phones have your identification and whatever you have chosen to put in the public domain in their possession.

Marketers, advertisers, sales people, and criminals would all have the information they need to target you.

And there is also a system of mass observation which uses video cameras to monitor people in public areas. At present it is not used for identifying individuals but the company plans to install face recognition software as the next step.

The UK is apparently the countries with the most CCTV cameras per head of population and we have car numberplate recognition software already on major motorways and roads. How much more Orwellian can we get?