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Facebook Patents Inferring Income of Users 129

theodp writes "Among the patents granted to Facebook this week by the USPTO is one for Inferring Household Income for Users of a Social Networking System. 'For example,' Facebook explains, 'an assumption might be made about a user that reads and every day that the user is in a higher income bracket than another user that only reads and on the theory that a user who reads newspapers might be assumed to make more money than a user who only reads celebrity gossip blogs.' Advertisements such as those for travel packages, cars, and home mortgages, Facebook adds, 'are targeted to users based on income bracket,' which might also be inferred by 'gathering and analyzing different types of information about a user's geographic location.' Hey, what could go wrong?"
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Facebook Patents Inferring Income of Users

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  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @02:24PM (#45627735)
    Isn't this exactly what marketing research companies have done before. A quick web search says []:

    corn is a powerful consumer classification that segments the UK population. By analysing demographic data, social factors, population and consumer behaviour, it provides precise information and an understanding of different types of people. Acorn provides valuable consumer insight helping you target, acquire and develop profitable customer relationships and improve service delivery.

    This is just another case of adding "... on a computer" or "... over wifi" to something that's already an established practice to gain a patent.

  • Re:Profiling... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @02:40PM (#45627827)

    "Post-capitalist"? We're reaching the zenith of everything Capitalism has sought to achieve. Record income disparities with unparalleled wealth for the super-wealthy, concentrating control over every aspect of society in the hands of a tiny elite. Thanks to Facebook, "the markets" (a.k.a. billionaire investors) even control human social interactions once considered sacrosanct from corporate intrusion. The Capitalist economy is all about the ascendancy of the 1% (and the 0.01% within that).

  • Turn it all off (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GWXerog ( 3151863 ) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @02:40PM (#45627831)
    There is an browser addon called Disconnect that blocks your browser from loading most if not all tracking resources, this includes the social media buttons used by Facebook to track your browsing. I put it onto every browser I come into contact with that supports it. []
  • by jonnyj ( 1011131 ) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @03:14PM (#45628051)

    This is patently absurd. In the UK, Equifax, Experian and Call Credit already sell income predictions based on statistical modelling of credit bureau information. How is switching the underlying data set in any way a unique or clever thing to do?

    This is nothing more than a fancy regression algorithm.

  • by McGruber ( 1417641 ) on Saturday December 07, 2013 @04:07PM (#45628387)
    A small clarification:

    The reason Facebook has any advertising income, and therefore value as a company, is that the people purchasing FB advertisements believe it has the ability to provide very directed advertising.

Someday somebody has got to decide whether the typewriter is the machine, or the person who operates it.