Facebook DENIES it’s building eye-tracking software despite holding two patents for the technology
- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied that the company is building eye-tracking software in a written document of answers to Congress
- Company holds at least two patents for detecting eye movements and emotions
- ‘Right now we’re not building technology to identify people with eye-tracking cameras’, Facebook wrote, claiming it is protecting its intellectual property
Facebook has denied in a document of answers to Congress that it is creating a software to track eye movements.
The company holds at least two different patents for detecting eye movements and emotions, but claims they are ‘to protect [their] intellectual property’.
The 454-page report was created in response to questions Mark Zuckerberg was asked during his appearance before Congress in April.
It identified two patents titled ‘Dynamic eye tracking calibration’ and ‘Techniques for emotion detection and content delivery’.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied that the company is building eye-tracking software in a written document of answers to Congress
Lawmakers gave Zuckerberg a public grilling over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but he failed to answer many of their queries.
Facebook said that if it did choose to use eye tracking technology in the future, it would be cognizant of user privacy.
‘Right now we’re not building technology to identify people with eye-tracking cameras,’ Facebook said.
‘However, we’re always exploring how new technologies and methods can improve our services, and eye-based identification is one way that we could potentially reduce consumer friction and add security for people when they log into Oculus or access Oculus content.’
Facebook purchased the virtual reality platform in 2014.
‘If we implement this technology in the future, we will absolutely do so with people’s privacy in mind, just as we do with movement information (which we anonymize in our systems),’ the statement continued.
Facebook also took the opportunity to defend some of the more controversial practices employed by the company.
In answering whether the Menlo Park firm ever captures microphone or camera data without a user’s knowledge, a spokesman said: ‘No, Facebook does not engage in these practices or capture data from a microphone or camera without consent.’
Responding to a question about whether Facebook targets its advertising along racial or religions lines, a spokesman added: ‘We offer what we call the multicultural affinity segments, which are groups of people whose activities on Facebook suggest they may be interested in content related to the African American, Asian American, or Hispanic American communities.
‘As we explain to advertisers in our tools, these segments are based on people’s activities on Facebook, not on race or ethnicity.’
When asked about ‘shadow profiles’, alleged data tracking of non-Facebook users, a spokesman said: ‘Facebook does not create profiles or track website visits for people without a Facebook account.
The firm also confirmed that it automatically logs IP addresses where a user has logged into their Facebook account.
WHAT ARE THE 18 METHODS USED BY FACEBOOK TO TRACK USERS REVEALED IN LETTERS TO CONGRESS?
1. ‘Device information’ from ‘computers, phones, connected TVs, and other web-connected devices,’ as well as your ‘internet service provider or mobile operator’
2. ‘Mouse movements’, which can help distinguish humans from bots
3. ‘App and file names’, including the types of files on your devices
4. ‘Device operations’ such as whether a window running Facebook is ‘foregrounded or backgrounded’
5. ‘Device signals’, including ‘nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers’ and ‘signal strength’ as well as Bluetooth signals
6. ‘Other devices that are nearby or on their network’
7. ‘Battery level’
8. ‘Available storage space’
9. ‘Plugins’ installed
10. ‘Connection speed’
11. ‘Purchases’ Facebook users make on third-party websites
12. Contact information ‘such as an address book’ and ‘call log or SMS log history’ for Android users with these settings synced
13. Information ‘about how users use features like our camera’
14. The ‘location of a photo or the date a file was created’ through the file’s metadata
15. ‘GPS location, camera, or photo’ information found through your device’s settings
16. Purchases from third-party data providers as well as other information about your ‘online and offline actions’
17. ‘Device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts users use’
18. ‘When others share or comment on a photo of them, send a message to them, or upload, sync or import their contact information’ text
Last week, US lawmakers slammed Zuckerberg, claiming the billionaire lied in his testimony to Congress.
It was revealed that Facebook handed over user data to 60 smartphone manufacturers – including a Chinese company flagged by US intelligence.
The news came just two months after Zuckerberg testified at Capitol Hill following the revelation his company had passed on the data of 87 million users to political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, many without their consent.
Senators criticised the 34-year-old for not disclosing Facebook’s secret deals with smartphone companies during the recent testimony.
One lawmaker said Zuckerberg’s withholding of key information during the hearing meant it was ‘hard to know what’s true anymore’.
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