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FB plans to pass your photos to advertisers, make users the stars of online ads (telegraph.co.uk)
186 points by ColinWright 43 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 94 comments

The simplest explanation of why this is a tragically bad idea for them can be explained by a single product: “condoms”.

If they automatically identify photos where someone happens to have left out a condom somewhere in the frame, and then use their likeness to advertise that brand of condoms (at the brand’s request), they will destroy any remaining trust in their platform among teens and inspire hostile legislation after the progeny of a public figure have their face used in such an ad without their opt-in consent.

This is one of the worst ideas they could possibly have come up with. It’s insane to think what kind of filter bubble they’re working within that permit this to proceed to the patent stage.

It is the same filter bubble that leads an employee to triumphantly proclaim

"Remember, what Facebook is doing has never been done before. There are going to be mistakes."


It reminded me of this classic tweet:


This tweet is absolutely ridiculous, but sadly at the same time represents a non minor opinion.

I wonder why we need to justify everything as a fault of a "filter bubble". Can't it be that these are bad/selfish/self-absorbed people?

Self-absorption and selfishness at the expense of others is a “filter bubble” that seems popular these days. While you could probably construct an argument that this slang isn’t the best description, that’s no reason to stop using it as shorthand for “a subgroup of modern social culture whose values are locally aligned but contrast with those otherwise proximal to them, whether physically or culturally”. Being selfish does not imply that you are a member of a local ‘cult’ of selfishness, so a group-focused slang will be required if you seek to replace that usage of filter bubble.

"It takes a village to raise a child".


You've been breaking the guidelines a whole lot. If you won't comment civilly and substantively we'll ban the account.


For tragically bad, I would go with five words: "know someone who is pregnant?" with a picture of the user's teenage daughter like Target[1] except more social. I am pretty sure that could turn into a greater tragedy, and probably is inevitable given how much of a distortion field this requires to implement.

1) https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-targ...

Most companies patent stuff they never make just to bump up their portfolio size.

Feels like the kind of feature that you monetize until there are too many voices against it at which point you probably made so much money that it's totally worth it.

Feels like the kind of feature that you monetize until there are too many voices against it at which point you probably made so much money that it's totally worth it.

Then you put out a non-apology press release with the key phrase "We can do better."

We must do better, and we will do better.

I hope people stop being naive and finally understand they are product, not the customers. If you are not paying for the services it means somebody else pays for you to get the service and that your interest is only important to Facebook as long and as much as they can still keep you posting all your lives' details and carrying their spying app on your phone. Because that's what FB really wants from you, not your happiness.

You're always the product. Even paying for a product doesn't mean they aren't gathering and selling your data. As examples, cell phone companies selling location data, tv manufacturers selling viewing data, cable/isp companies selling your browsing history, credit card companies selling your purchasing history. The list goes on. If you don't have a specific guarantee in the contract at the time you paid for a good or service that your data isn't being sold to or shared with third parties, you are the product.

> You're always the product. Even paying for a product

Really! I am astonished that people seem comfortable that their products have prominent and sometimes dominant logos of a manufacturer, so that they have paid to be walking/driving billboards for somebody else.

Plenty of iphone and ipad cases have holes to show the mirrored Apple logo -- originally intended as a selfie mirror but obsolete for that purpose once the selfie camera was introduced. (I use both devices myself but don't worry about blocking the logo).

Growing up I was always taught logos on clothing is just free advertising for companies. I try to avoid wearing things with logos and remove stickers and decals and stuff from things I buy.

I also grew up hanging out with a bunch skaters. A few of my friends got good enough companies actually sponsored them and paid them to wear their clothes or use their boards. It sort of opened my eyes to the idea of fashion itself just being marketing.

If I do wear or use something with some kind of logo, I like to make sure it's from a company or product, whose business practices I support and don't mind advertising for rather than just because I like something they make.

It's about status. If you can associate your brand with status, you can make people do anything.

I agree with gumby's comment, and also wanted to add that.. I can afford the most expensive clothes you can imagine. I really can. But since I was a teenager I always disliked paying someone £€$ in order to become their walking bilboard. I equally dislike when I give my car for service, and the garage sticks 1-2-3... stickers with their logo, without asking me. If they want advertising space, they should pay for it.

My typical 'uniform' is jeans and some long-sleeve shirt, the ones you buy from Primark for £5 or £10. I have searched for similar items without logo and I can't find anyting decent. Even Patagonia sticks a logo.

They can keep their brand to themselves. If Burberry makes a long-sleeve the way I want it, without any isnignia, and the quality matches the price, I will gladly cough up the £100 to buy it, because I know it will last me 10 years. Until then, I am keeping my money - my money. :)

I took the little crocodile off a Lacoste shirt once. Took fucking forever, it was stitched on super tight, but once you remove it it leaves no trace.

Uniqlo my man. Or actual crafted clothing.

Depends on the item, but I chose a Patagonia rain jacket partly because their logo is a stitched on tag I could easily remove while most other brands print their logo on.

If I could afford the most expensive clothes I can imagine I would buy hand-made custom everything.

Cayce Pollard is real, I knew Gibson fid not invent her.

We should really be teaching people to be confident in themselves but I suppose that makes them harder to manipulate and abuse.

Higher end clothing doesn’t have visible logos in my experience.

I'm clearly not the product buying things in cash at my local farmer's market, but this does apply much of the time otherwise.

You know that it's too late for you, right?

My photo has been uploaded countless times to facebook without my permission, and my data has been sold countless times through brokers that acquired this information illegally. There is nothing I can do, and Facebook will continue to behave irresponsibly with my information.

It is because of the unethical behavior of Facebook as an organization that we're in this mess - not the naive users.

>I hope people stop being naive and finally understand they are product, not the customers.

I - sincerely - wish that this were plausible but nothing indicates any preceptable hint at a change from the current modus operandi. That ship has sailed and the rest of us are caught in the undertow.

> ...naive..

Funny thing, I was watching (again - as a refresher) the videos of Financial Peace University from a few years back that I still have on my backups, and at some point Dave Ramsey says "Evian spelled backwards is Naive". He mentioned that in a 'water comparison vs cost' example on why we need to be more considerate on the management of our £€$.

Back to our discussion..

Those evil actors (Facebook, trackers, advertisers) survive from the constant flow of our data. If we ever/once we cut off this flow permanently, then eventually they will 'starve to death'. These evil actors can't go around advertising with 10-year old data.

Facebook's motto: 1. Implement out-of-touch privacy antagonistic methods to earn money. 2. Face public backlash. 3. Say, we are sorry. We are stopping it (not totally). We are going to improve. 4. Repeat.

Business model that could make so much money that followed-up penalties for privacy violations already priced-in.

Until government steps in - this behavior will continue.

The question and blames should be directed to lawmakers - why they are hesitant to pass strong privacy laws to stop that.

Clearly FB is not going to do anything. It's way cheaper to send Mark Z. to be grilled once a year then abandon privacy violation based business models.

> why are they hesitant to pass strong privacy laws

Because companies like FB/Google/Amazon spend ridiculous amounts of money "lobbying" and trading favors with the government to prevent them from doing anything to get in the way of surveillance capitalism.

I thought they already did this. I'm pretty sure it says somewhere in their terms of service they can use your pictures for this(not that I don't think it's horrible or that it's excusable.) Wasn't there some trouble a bunch of years ago when someone found one of their facebook pictures being used in an ad? Or am I thinking of something totally different?

Maybe it was using your name/profile photo on ads for companies/products that you previously "liked" or interacted with? https://mashable.com/2013/09/05/facebook-ads-photo/#Gam.tGNJ...

Yeah pretty sure it was that one.

Perhaps you're thinking of this story?


When the Smiths of Missouri – an all-American family with the regulation two blond children – posed for their Christmas photo, little did they know they would end up on a billboard thousands of miles away in the Czech Republic.

Just under a fortnight ago, a family friend of Jeff and Danielle Smith was travelling in Prague when he spotted some familiar faces beaming out of a poster advertising a grocery store's home delivery service.

I've never read that one. I may have been wrong about it happening to somebody in particular, but i think it was something to do with when this happened:


That I was thinking about.

I think from what i can tell, the difference is now they're being sold to third parties instead of being used internally. If i'm not wrong.

Thanks, I thought I was going crazy the way everyone seemed to forget your photos already are used in ads.

Thanks for clarifying what is new here.

When I was in college and Facebook was relatively new, I once saw a girl I went to college with in a dating ad. She wasn't a model, she didn't give them permission. But they scraped her photo from Facebook.

It would make much more sense to just use the data for advertising and not peoples pictures.

Examples: - If you see Steve's close friends all drink grey goose but he doesn't start advertising goose to him - If you have advertised Polo shirts to John and then he uploads a picture of him in a new Polo shirt, fb can take credit for that sale - Allow advertisers to exclude users who already own/use their product


This approach is much less visible to consumers and so would be more widely accepted (or just have less articles saying bad things about it).

So essentially their current business model?

Yep just incrementally better.

I can’t see how this would be legal. As a amateur photographer myself, I know that to do a commercial photo like this, to advertise a product, I’d need model releases and a potentially a property release. Neither of these are needed for editorial images or people’s own personal pictures. I can’t see the facebook could do this via the EULA, so they’d have to contact everyone identifiable in the pictures - which I suspect would mean it’s not viable for them.

That thing where you click on the box that says "I agree to the terms of service." during signup.

Technically you are giving facebook all rights to reproduce and monetize any content you put on the platform... thus has it always been.

You're not claiming to have model releases for all subjects in your photos, nor allocate those permissions to Facebook. Very different thing from copyright, which they do get through the EULA.

And the T&Cs suggest they would only share things in a way that was "consistent with your privacy and application settings", and they terminate their license when you remove something from there (surprisingly noble).

But yes, you're the product, etc. Don't be surprised that they want to monetise your content.

So they detect and use only photos where you're alone with the product and stop the use in ad campaign, as soon as you remove the photo.


That’s not the same thing. Advertising a product involves using someone’s likeness to endorse a product, which is strictly controlled in many countries. It’s not the same as having adverts in the feed next to your content. I’m sure facebook would have to get individual consent, e.g. do you want to endorse CocaCola?

This is like the Netflix show Maniac, where Emma Stone's character had sold her likeness to be used in advertisements.

Not really, I'd say in that case its more like doing stock photo shoots, knowing it will be used for commercial purposes.

Vs what FB is doing, sure they mostly likely own any photo uploaded to them via their TOS, but people never expected for those photos to be used in commercial purposes, even if they say they can in the TOS.

So what if a user uploads a photo they don't own? If I take a group picture with my friends (but I'm not a Facebook user), send it (outside of Facebook controlled means) to one of those individuals pictured, and THEY choose to post it -- what happens, in this new scenario?

The poster doesn't own the rights to the photo, and thus doesn't have the right to implicitly (via some EULA rewrite) grant Facebook the right to use it.

Or what if someone uploaded copyrighted Getty images of famous people which then get used in ads. Whose liable in that case when Getty rolls around with DMCA notices.

Well, this is just another piece of evidence that my decision to both not be a part of Facebook and to not have any pictures of me online were correct.

That's not enough, though—you also have to make sure your friends are not on facebook, and don't put pictures of you online. It's not an individual consent issue anymore in a wired-up world.

Yes, I know. In the end, you can't cover things 100%. I have made my preference very well known to my friends and family, though, and they have respected it so far to the best of my knowledge.

I will admit, though, that I do try to avoid having my picture taken by anybody for any reason if I can possibly do so.

Social media has made it too dangerous to engage in blind trust about these things anymore.

They have filed a patent does not mean they will actually develop it.

To file patent, you have to have some prototype, but it actually cannot be in production for more than year (and does not have to be in production at all).

In US, requirement for a model dropped in 1880


This is absolutely literally precisely the practice that ignited the right to privacy movement in the late 19th century: misappropriation of likeness without notice or compensation for commercial advertising, in the case of Abigail Roberson, whose 1897 portrait photograph was appropriated by Franklin Mills to sell flour, reproduced over 25,000 times acros the United State. She sued and won, but lost on appeal.


What an exceeding corrupt and useless tactic! Thanks Facebook, every time I think you've hit the rocky bottom of the Moral Well, you break or the shovels and pick axes and make stuff happen!

Their mission is to make the world more open and connected.

No. Their mission is to monetize as much of the world's population as possible. That "open and connected" thing is just the pretty lie that they have to tell.

*to ads

Is this connected to that creepy home device of theirs with the camera being constantly on?

This is scary.

I can just imagine this being the new Instagram challenge for young people. Get good looking enough to get in an ad, make no money but be famous in your group of friends. Personally, I don't want to see anyone I know being "used" for an ad. Just imagine, grandma being featured in an adult diaper ad or your son's friend being used in an ad for some toy. Keeping up with the Jones' by seeing them in target ads.

If you delete your account, is there any way to make sure your data is deleted? I feel like disabling my account probably only denies myself access to their data on me

I think Facebook maintains profiles on people that don't have accounts. I don't see any reason why deleting your account would cause a deletion of any data. If they did wipe the slate, it probably wouldn't take that long for them to rebuild their dossier on you.

Better to confound FB by posting/uploading fake content. Even better if you can keep it consistently wrong. Be sure to tag your name to other people's faces to confuse their facial recognition algorithms.

reminds me of an extension that does that with browsing history:


Yes there is a way to "delete" it but its burried inside a maze of options and facebook forces you to wait 2 weeks for it to take effect.

Lawyers and Para-legals of HN, what's your opinion on this; watermark all photos you upload to FB with a disclaimer saying something like:

"By leaving this picture accessible, Facebook agrees that I retain full copyrights, and Facebook can not use this picture for advertising purposes, all clauses of Facebooks EULA in contrary being void"

Would something like this work and be accepted in a court of law ?

It’s as ineffective and thus nonsensical as the “copyright notice” that typical consumers started to cut and paste into their bios few years back. By using their service, you’ve already accepted their agreement, to whatever extent it’s legally enforceable. I really doubt that it includes a clause that you can negate or place restrictions on the agreement within the content that you post using their service. It would make more sense to send them a letter if that’s really what you want to try to do. If you don’t want Facebook to use your image the best way is to not upload it to them.

IANAL, but for that to work you'd need, at a minimum, someone authorized to bind Facebook contractually (e.g, a corporate officer) to have read the watermark and left the picture accessible, and even that's less clear than if the acceptance was by action rather than inaction.

No. You agreed to their EULA by signing up, but they are not agreeing to your disclaimer by virtue of you posting it.

Right. You're bound by their contract of adhesion, and they are not bound by yours.

Leonine contracts are enforceable only in one direction, after all.

Watermarks have no specific legal merit and never did. People use them because it makes them feel better, copyright exists with or without the watermark and Facebook's terms (that you agreed to) apply with or without it.

Plus implicit agreements to a contract is a rabbit hole, and you'd never be able to show that a human working at Facebook ever witnessed this supposed contractual verbiage.

This reminds me a lot of those "share this image to stop Facebook selling your information to advertisers" meme that was going around a few years ago.

I can only imagine that this would just make the photos unusable (I imagine a "John Smith" printed diagonally on a photo, enough to make it 'viewable' by friends, but unusable by advertisers. Of course there is always photoshop, and I will assume that even if someone watermarks a photo like that, someone, somewhere can spend 10mins and process/edit the semi-transparent letters so as to 'remove' them from the picture.

I wonder if the better solution is to embed as much subtle inappropriate content in your photos as possible - not enough to traumatize grandma, but if every photo is now going to lead advertisers into a "there's a penis on the front of the Little Mermaid" problem, maybe that'll slow em down?

Nope. But in some jurisdictions consumer protection and data privacy laws ought to prevent FB doing this, their EULA notwithstanding.

However, bear in mind that this is from The Telegraph, which is a not a high quality news source. There is likely to be a significant element of misreporting, so I'd like to see a verifying story from a credible source before damning FB.

> Would something like this work and be accepted in a court of law ?


Im wondering if something other than my face could star in an ad, like say a body part with googlie eyes stuck on it and a big smile drawn on it etc.

It would definately skew or alter brand perception, so here we go with a filter being required.

I can't see the full article so maybe this is covered, but I wonder what kind of protections they have to prevent users maliciously uploading photos featuring brands in photos the brands would rather not be associated with.

There are non-paywalled copies around, e.g. at https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/1053866-time-to-rev-up-...

I can see this being very popular on Instagram, it is already moving in that direction. People love aspirational images of "themselves in the future" and these ads always sell well.

Google got in trouble with something very similar with "Shared Endorsements." One of many bad ideas that came along with Google Plus.

After a certain amount of time I've stopped caring or even wanting to express any "moral outrage" at this situation. The users of Facebook have been given enough reminders to vote with their feet and move to other platforms that are more privacy-friendly.

If they choose not to and they are expecting a bunch of governments to address their problems, that is a pointless exercise also.

The network effect cannot be so powerful that the 5-10 people you frequently engage with online can't all move with you to other platforms.

Facebook will always do questionable things because the value they get from these practices is way higher than the penalty cost.

I think EBay has a clause like this in their terms, where you give them a non-exclusive right to your product photos.

What a mess.

Very interesting infographic shows "How Tech Giants Make Their Billion". I think that we all have a good idea who the Big4 make their $$$$ but it is interesting to see it also in relation with some coutries' GDP as well as seeing how much each stream makes.

[1]: https://assets.pcmag.com/media/images/551166-whyaxis-how-tec...

Such bullshit that this is a patent

Lots of patents are complete bullshit.

Looks like it could be retrofitted for political content very easily.

They already did this years ago. Has everyone really forgotten?

google had this for ages. you can get to this permission from android google account settings.

if even shows an example of a user's innocuous review showing up in an Ad.

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