Why all of the hype around Facebook privacy revelations? After all, the purpose of Facebook is to share your information (albeit, among your closest friends).
Perhaps one of the most alarming insights from the Cambridge Analytica findings is that with many Facebook apps or online surveys, when installed or taken by **anyone** in your Facebook network of “Friends,” **your** detailed data is siphoned off and sent to the app/survey company — your connections, what you liked, disliked, clicked on, whereabouts when accessing, and much more. Again, this data was culled even if you did nothing other than “friend” someone who likes to take Facebook surveys.
Why should you care? After all, there are far more invasive systems out there that are compiling data on you without your control. You can somewhat control what you do on Facebook.
An example of the future of data analytics is in real-time facial recognition and mood analysis. What the heck is this?
If you have been to a sporting event lately, many stadiums have added FanCam or a similar product. These systems take ultra-high resolution photos continuously of the stadium audience (not the players or game) and let fans find themselves by zooming in out their seat location, and order photos of them at the game — action shots of them cheering after a goal or win! (To see a sample, you can browse fans doing their thing at various stadium events here.)
But wait; this seems like an expensive way to take and share selfies! There must me something more…
With ultra-high resolution photos of your face, these systems can identify who you are by comparing your face and location with other databases, and can read your expression at various points in time during the event. They can detect a thrill, joy, anger, satisfaction, boredom and disappointment. These can even detect your attentiveness when you are viewing a pre-game advertisement on the large screen. Detecting your reaction to a product placement advertisement can be quite useful and valuable for marketers.
Of course, this is all “opt-in” meaning, you opt-in by walking into the stadium (often there is a sign posted outside saying that you agree to have your image shared by entering…after you paid for tickets and parking).
This all seems fun and harmless. But where is this technology going? Alexa, Siri, they are listening to your mood whenever you have your phone or home device on. Or consider perhaps TV and video game cams watching your emotions when you see various advertisements or are in game play mode, to hone in on improving your experience?
Our Tech Essentials prediction is that in the near future, one will look back at Google’s scanning of email to profile users and sell ads, or Facebook’s breach of user data to app makers as nostalgic — old limited technology, sort of like thinking about those days when people sent letters by fax. Watch out for the future of facial recognition and always-on cameras. In the meantime, you can still protect what privacy you have left by remembering to email your private information with RMail’s simple-to-use email encryption.