Facebook will know where you are going before you do, new plans reveal

Facebook is patenting technology that will be able to predict users' future movements.

By Natasha Bernal  11 DECEMBER 2018 • 6:23PM

Facebook is set to know where you are going before you do and send you targeted adverts for your destination, after filing a new technology patent in the US.

The patent, filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, relies on users' previously logged location data from their phones as well as similar data on other people to forecast where and when they are likely to go next.

Facebook can blend behavioural patterns with those of friends and others to help it build up a picture of habits and guess your future movements, according to one of the patents which was made public last week. 

The social media giant sought to play down the significance of the patent application."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."

But experts say the technology is aimed at providing advertisers with valuable new information.

For instance, for a person who always heads for a certain train station after leaving work, Facebook's algorithm will be able to predict exactly when they will lose internet connectivity. It could then automatically pre-load content on their smartphone and allow them to use its services without interruption. This would permit access to far more features from Facebook when on the underground or on an airplane, for example. 

On holiday or at a new location, the technology will also be able to predict a person's movements and determine when they could be offline by analysing the behaviour of people of the same age, gender, or local area.

The technology could gather data about the behaviour of people with similar profile information to and provide insights to advertisers, allowing them to target you with new products offline. 

This is not the first time that Facebook has sought to bolster its expertise in this area.

Last year Facebook filed another patent to use in-built smartphone technology, such as a GPS or a barometer, to predict people's future destination and provide them with information about where they were going before they arrived. 

third patent filed three years ago hinted at the company's likely objective for this technology - targeting people with advertising even when they are offline.

Facebook's data privacy policies are under increased scrutiny, following the Cambridge Analytica scandal last year and a large data breach involving 50 million users in September.

Facebook executive was questioned by British MPs over the company's use of personal data last month as part of an international grand committee on fake news. 

There are currently no rules aimed specifically at social media companies in the UK, although MPs have drawn up plans to create a new regulator for social media and the internet following widespread concern from consumers over addiction and abuse online.


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