Facebook developing software that chooses selfie-filters based on your emotional expression

2 July 2018


Facebook turns Black Mirror-esque in its filing of a patent for a technology that automatically chooses a selfie filter based on your emotional expression.

Mashable reports that the patent was filed in 2016 but has only been made public now. Instead of a phone-user having to manually select a mask based on mood, Facebook’s term for a filter, they would merely have to look into the camera and the new emotion-detecting software will register it for them — automatically selecting a “mask from a set of masks”. Already raising critical psychological questions on whether emotions can ever be accurately read, let alone by a machine, this technology has some strange undercurrents — do we want Facebook to know how we are feeling?

Among the masks patented is one of a Panda, applied to a “face having features associated with happiness”, Facebook writes; an “angry bird mask” is applied to a face who appears angry, “gushing tears” on someone who seems sad. The mask can also change based on many other factors; it is not only predicted by facial features but is also dependent on other elements such as location, profile data, or objects in the image itself.

Although the patent for the tech doesn’t necessarily mean it will be launched as a consumer product, with the company currently caught up in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it is questionable as to whether we would want to give Facebook access to any more personal details.

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Emma Latham Phillips

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