Facebook already knows where you are, and now it wants to know where you're going. A new report in BuzzFeed News shows Facebook has filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for technology that can use your historical data to predict your future location. Christine Bannan with the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) says this shouldn't come as a surprise. "Facebook's whole business model is based on targeted advertisements," she tells KTRH. "So, basically this is a more precise and sophisticated way of doing that, using location data."
The type of technology Facebook is seeking to patent goes beyond the location tracker we've already grown accustomed to in our cell phones. "It's not just based on where you are at that moment, but it's based on your pattern of location over time," says Bannan. "Based on the history of your movement, it can sort of predict where you're going next and serve you ads based on those predictions."
For its part, Facebook notes that none of this technology has been implemented, and that filing patent applications does not necessarily indicate the company's future plans.
With technology continually advancing to seemingly track and follow our every move, Bannan believes Congress will eventually need to get involved. "Hopefully we'll be seeing some comprehensive data protection legislation that gives users more rights when it comes to their privacy," she says.
In the meantime, there are ways to prevent online ad tracking, and to limit location tracking in Facebook. You can turn off location services in the Facebook app. Or, delete the app from your phone and just access Facebook through your web browser.