Facebook may be working on new technology that allows the social media giant to spy on users via their smartphone and webcams.
The alarming technology is capable of automatically analyzing the facial expressions of users.
It was discovered after Facebook applied for a patent which reveals how it intends to capture pictures of users through their smartphone.
The patent dates back to 2015 but has only recently been discovered by software firm CBI Insights.
The patent contains illustrations which shows someone using a smartphone while the camera detects “emotion characteristics” such as smiling or frowning.
The technology would be able to recognise if a user smiles when they see a particular type of content. Facebook would then show them more of the same type of content in the future.
It is not known if Facebook is actively developing the creepy technology or if it has any plans to introduce it to its mobile apps or desktop version.
Tech companies file hundreds of patents each year but many of them never see the light of day, let alone end up in a finished product.
In a blog post, CBI Insights warned that if the technology was ever added to Facebook, it could put people off from using the service.
“On the one hand, they want to identify which content is most engaging and respond to audience’s reactions, on the other emotion-detection is technically difficult, not to mention a PR and ethical minefield,” the firm said.
This isn’t the only patent Facebook has filed which users may find alarming.
Only last month Facebook filed a patent titled ‘Augmenting text messages with emotion information’ which analyses a user’s message to help it become more emotive.
For example, if it thinks the message contains a joke or something funny or lighthearted, it may add a smiley face emoji to the message.
Alternatively, if the message is more serious or thinks a user is angry it may alter the size of the text or add an emoji which it thinks is relevant to the mood of the user at the time.
Facebook would do this by analysing the data from the keyboard, keypad or touch screen to detect the speed in which words are typed or even how hard keys are pressed.