Facebook has been granted a patent in the US for technology that enables the social media company to pass on users’ photographs to advertisers for use in online ads.
The technology is referred to within the patent documentation as ‘computer-vision content detection for sponsored stories’. It can detect and tag images people have uploaded that include specific branded items such as food and drink.
Once tagged, Facebook would then pass those images on to relevant advertisers for the brand to parlay into ads that other Facebook users would see.
According to the patent application, these ‘sponsored’ or ‘promoted’ stories will be generated from content in users’ newsfeeds and as such, are more likely to be viewed by other users.
In a further dimension to the patent, details are provided about a bidding process by which users would be paid for sponsoring a certain product, based on who the user is and the level of engagement with the content, such as how many times a post is viewed, clicked, or presented to a particular demographic.
At this stage, Facebook appears to suggest only users with access to the user’s profile would be able to look at the sponsored story. This means visibility of the ads would be dependent on user privacy settings.
While brands may welcome the potential for greater creativity, personalisation and targeting of their advertising and more engagement with Facebook audiences, the development has sparked concerns over privacy and a growing intrusion of advertising within the user experience.
Concerns are also being raised about the use of data beyond enhancement of the personal experience, into enabling brands to generate greater sales revenues.
As yet the technology does not yet exist, but the patent now allows for Facebook the choice to proceed with investing in development.