January 23, 2022
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(EDITORS NOTE: This image has been altered: [Double exposure
(EDITORS NOTE: This image has been altered: [Double exposure

A trio of patent applications hint at Facebook’s efforts to figure out your next move, when you’ll be offline and how best to advertise to you.

The proposed patents, previously reported by Buzzfeed News, won’t necessarily result in these systems being implemented, but do give a sense of how the social network could take advantage of the location data it has on you.

‘Offline Trajectories,’ filed in May 2017, describes tech that predicts where you’re going based on your previously logged locations and those of other people — so Facebook would know, say, if you’re going to a specific store after you leave work.

If that store has poor internet coverage, it’ll know that Facebook content should ‘prefetched’ so you’ll have access while you’re there.

The second, ‘Location Prediction Using Wireless Signals on Online Social Networks,’ was filed in November 2017. This system gauges the strength of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cellular and near-field communication (NFC) signals to figure out your location.

Its goal is to do so more precisely than GPS, working out where you are (like a bar or gym), when you visit, what the opening hours are and when that spot is most popular. Then, it’d work out which locations you’re most likely to visit afterward.

The third patent application highlighted by Buzzfeed, ‘Predicting Locations and Movements of Users Based on Historical Locations for Users of an Online System,’ was filed in December 2015 and focuses on targeted advertising based on movement trends. It sorts locations into pairs based on typical movement patterns, then alerts you to promotions if you visit two locations related to another pairing.

‘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,’ Facebook spokesperson Andy Harrison said in an emailed statement.

In July, Facebook set new rules to offer users more information about targeted ads they might see.

Danny Smith