Facebook patents technology that would estimate users' socioeconomic status

Facebook patents technology that would estimate users' socioeconomic status
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Facebook has patented a new system that could help it estimate a user's socioeconomic status.

The patent, according to CBInsights, shows a decision tree that collects data points on a user's education level, travel history, the number of devices they own, homeownership and where they live to guess the probability of them falling in a given socioeconomic class.

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The tree would assign different values to different answers that, when added up, shed light on a user’s potential background. High school, college and graduate degrees, for example, would be assigned different weights. The same would go for different neighborhoods and other data points which would be added together to produce a score indicating what socioeconomic status a person might be.

The patent would allow Facebook to better target its ads. Though the patent was just published on Feb. 1, it was filed in July 2016, and it's possible that the social media platform has already been assessing its users' socioeconomic backgrounds.

Facebook’s ad tools already let advertisers target ads by income, net worth, zip code and other things that closely track to an individual's socioeconomic status.

Facebook also says it’s possible that it might not do anything with the patent.

“We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patents should not be taken as an indication of future plans,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement emailed to The Hill.