Social networking giant Facebook has recently patented a piece of technology that is able to predict major life changes in a user’s life.
The development was first reported by the New York Times along with several other patent applications the social site has filed. It is constantly applying for patents for technological advances or new features to ensure that they do not crop up on a rival network.
The technology is simply called Predicting Life Changes and is an algorithm that analyses the data of a user to predict changes such as marital status, new jobs, graduations, the birth of children and death.
According to the patent, the algorithm calculates the probability of a particular user experiencing a life-changing event and does this using a combination of a machine learning model and historical data it holds on the user and other users of the social site who have undergone the life changes.
The reasons behind Facebook patenting such technology are not clear, as the company has not yet said anything about it. However, you may be able to come to the conclusion that the main reason for it is advertising. This is the main aim of many features on Facebook, so this may be no different.
Should Facebook be able to get hold of data that would suggest a user is pregnant, it would be able to target that user and serve them with highly relevant adverts, such as baby clothing items and nappies.
Although many users of the network choose to make the information they share on their profiles available to the public, many regarding major events that happen in their lives, the Facebook patent describes how information could be gathered through other subtle methods.
The patent states that information may be collected through instant messages, emails and wall posts to determine whether or not a user has experience a major life change and will use this information to predict the next one in the future.
Even though Facebook has applied for a patent for this technology, it highlights that these applications are not indications that it will be introducing it to the platform, or mean that it plans to use it in the future.
The news of Facebook’s patent application comes not long after Google released a study on an algorithm that can predict the likelihood of death in a hospital patient. The algorithm was developed by Google and was used in two separate hospitals to calculate the likelihood of a patient death. In the first hospital, it was 95% accurate, and 93% accurate in the second.