Facebook may be where many of us spent most of our time online, but the social network has some downright creepy practices.
The company has filed hundreds of patent applications over the years, many of which revolve around tracking its users and finding out more about them. The company has looked into rolling out features meant to keep up with whether you’re in a relationship, your personal politics, and where you are.
So it should come as no surprise that Facebook has also invented a slightly creepy new system that would suggest friends to you based on who you’ve been standing near in real life.
Facebook’s creepy and potentially invasive new patent application
The tech, explored in the official patent application, would use features you already have on your smartphone such as Bluetooth or Near-Field Communication (NFC) to determine your location, others’ identities and an assortment of other information meant to help make “mutual connections” with people you meet in real life. According to the patent application, “Under conventional approaches, a first user who desires to connect with a second user usually knows the second user’s name, contact information, or at least has some level of mutual connection with the second user.”
The feature does seem as though it would have some merit, potentially invasive as it is, as it’s meant to help folks who “forget” to grab another person’s phone number or contact information, the idea being they could head to Facebook to see who it was they were just connecting with.
“During their meeting, the first user and the second user forgot to obtain each other’s full names and contact information,” Facebook lines out in its patent application. “Furthermore, the first user and second user do not have any mutual connections that are readily recognizable or apparent to each other. Thus, the opportunity for the first and second users to connect can be lost.”
As such, Facebook doesn’t quite find this all a bit bizarre or creepy as we might, and compares it more to the other ways we find friends online such as manually searching for friends, using our phone contacts list, and more.
Facebook already uses quite a bit of personally identifiable data to help connect you with others as it is, though. It will use information it pulls from checking in to regular locations, common friends and even profiles you view often to recommend the “right” friends. Otherwise, it could potentially recommend strangers.
Useful though Facebook’s friend recommendation algorithm may be, this could be going a step too far, especially when it comes to keeping names, Facebook profiles and more private. It’s a little strange to start using this kind of method to “connect” people, as useful as the feature could potentially be – and in an age where privacy is a prized commodity, it could be another step toward pushing more users off of the platform.