The sinister spycraft trend of social media has been well-documented on this blog, and while sipping my morning coffee I stumbled across a headline that seems straight out of Minority Report. Buzzfeed is reporting that Facebook has filed a patent for a new application called “Offline Trajectories,” a new tool within the platform that is designed to predict your future location.
A bit scary, right?
This new feature—which may or may not ever see the light of day—will utilize an algorithm that factors in your current location, past check-ins and travel tendencies to create a prediction for your next likely location. There’s an obvious advantage here for businesses that implement Facebook into their marketing strategies, but the practicality on a user-to-user basis is not quite connecting.
Regardless, it’s got a very New World Order vibe to it, and in current context of Facebook’s privacy controversies, doesn’t seem to be a sound move to instill confidence in the platform.
The social media behemoth is in the midst of a rebound from tumbling stock prices, and it’s unclear if news of Offline Trajectories will have any negative effect on its growth. But it highlights an increasing concern in the online space—privacy—and the ominous direction in which it’s heading. There is immense value for businesses to be able to trace your travel patterns, but what value does that provide to the individual user?
Facebook began as a way to connect and re-connect with others. In recent years it’s become more and more like a lead generation service. We’ll see if Offline Trajectories is ever actually installed on the platform, but if it is, it’s just one more avenue for advertising.