'Facebook was given the green light on a patent that suggests it may rove users' personal pictures to be re-purposed as adverts for certain products and brands.
A patent on the concept, called 'Computer-vision content detection for sponsored stories' was granted in the U.S. this week, and if deployed, would act as a useful tool for brands seeking new ways to engage Facebook users.
According to a patent description, by identifying certain products in a user's pictures, Facebook could theoretically partner with a brand to leverage those photos in a kind of online advert.
One hypothetical application outlined by the company in its patent involves its theoretical tool tagging a user who appears on Facebook drinking Grey Goose branded vodka.
Once tagged, the image can then be sent to the brand and parlayed into what the description calls a 'sponsored story.'
The case for such a technology is laid out by one particularly salient statement in the company's patent application.
'Sponsored or promoted stories generated from actual stories in users' newsfeeds are more likely to be viewed by users,' reads the patent.
In other words, by using personal pictures that feature a brand, Facebook would be able to bolster its ad engagement.
The technology doesn't stop there, however.
In a more traditional method of data-fueled advertising, information on brands gleaned by parsing through users' pictures could also go a long way toward understanding a company's presence in a particular market.
Using what Facebook calls a 'heat map' companies could judge not only where a product is being bought, but also at what density -- the more pictures of people using a product in an area, the more popular it is.
From there, Facebook lays out a scenario in which -- using its database of tagged product and brand information -- companies could potentially pay the social media platform to learn more about their reach in certain geographies.'
Read more: Creepy patent filing suggests Facebook wants to use your PHOTOS to help advertisers target your friends
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