- Facebook says it may develop eye-tracking software.
- In evidence submitted to Congress, the company said that the tools were not being developed “right now” but that it was “always exploring how new technologies and methods can improve our services.”
- Facebook said tracking eye movement could “reduce consumer friction” and “add security.”
Facebook says it may develop eye-tracking tools that would add a new layer to the way it monitors its 2.2 billion monthly users.
Facebook revealed that it had explored the technology in a deluge of written answers to US Congress following CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s appearance in April over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. CNBC first spotted the disclosure in the 229-page document.
Senators had spotted two patents containing references to eye-tracking software: one titled “Dynamic eye tracking calibration” and the other “Techniques for emotion detection and content delivery.” They asked how Facebook intended to use the technology.
Facebook said it was not building eye-tracking software “right now” but did not rule out doing so in the future. “We’re always exploring how new technologies and methods can improve our services,” it said. “If we implement this technology in the future, we will absolutely do so with people’s privacy in mind, just as we do with movement information.”
Facebook said the technology could be used to “reduce consumer friction” and “add security” for people when they log into Oculus, its virtual reality service. The abstract for the dynamic eye-tracking calibration patent suggests that users could control objects and apps on a screen with their gaze.
The patents are, however, likely to be ammunition for critics who say Facebook already collects too much data. As part of its answers to Congress, Facebook revealed all the ways it records user information. This includes tracking things like mouse movements and the battery life of your mobile device.