Facebook’s Creepy Patent Suggests Friends By Wirelessly Sensing Phones

This takes People You May Know feature to a whole new level


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Companies usually file patents all the time and they can be very interesting when you dive into the details. Facebook is not new to this and have been filing all sorts of patents and this next one is one of the strangest.

Facebook’s business model is all about getting as much data about you as possible and selling that to its advertisers. The better they know you, the better the ad targeting is and also the better they are able to connect you with your friends.

You might have used People You May Know feature where Facebook suggest people you should send that awkward friend request to. People have noticed how weirdly accurate that feature is and imagining how it would be better is unbelievable.

A Facebook patent was uncovered recently and from the looks of it, it is one creepy filed patent. It describes a method of how Facebook would utilize wireless communications to suggest connections for a user. The wireless communications technologies that could be detected include either NFC, Bluetooth, RFID, Z-Wave or PAN communications.

Facebook will use those signals to measure how close the two devices are and analyse the data to infer whether the two people have met. The patent also claims to rank the second person among factors like proximity to the first user, frequency of meetings, duration of the meetings and a pattern of the occurrences.

They can even monitor data from other sensors on your phone like the gyroscope o accelerometer to infer whether the two people are moving in the same pattern, like walking or running together.

The patent suggests that this technology will be useful for those cases where two parties seem to have connected a number of times thanks to data collected via this technology.

“Continuing with the example, if it is determined that there is a sufficiently high likelihood that they have met (or that their meeting was sufficiently significant), then the first user can be provided with a suggested connection specifying the second user, and the second user can be provided with a suggested connection specifying the first user. The first user can then choose to add the second user as a connection, or vice versa. It is contemplated that many other uses, applications, and/or variations are possible.,” it says on the patent filing.

This technology sounds really creepy at first glance since the technology can be used to populate your people you may know list with people you’ve met occasionally but did not exchange contacts. Facebook also suggests that there could be other uses, applications, and or variations of this technology to be used so this could become more interesting in the future.