After adding video chats to its Messenger service in 2016 and expanding the service further during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdowns, Facebook may be bringing a major feature from its social media platform over to video calls: activity recommendations.
The patent application published June 10, “Dynamic Shared Experience Recommendations,” contains a proposed method of incorporating in-call activities into Facebook’s service. Specifically, it involves making a joint activity recommendation to a plurality of video call participants.
The patent application states that a communication server retrieves user data and determines common interests among video call participants. These interests are processed into in-call activities for transmission to user devices. People may choose to view a list of these recommendations, and the system initiates the activities upon selection.
The system would utilize the breadth of data Facebook has at its disposal. This data mainly stems from interactions with the content on social media. The patent application cites how their social networking server gathers “explicit insights” from user actions that signal preferences towards topics, events, activities, and people, among others. Meanwhile, a user’s demographic information, friend activity, and location, among others, factor into the server’s generation of “implicit insights.”
The tech giant’s collection of user information, even off its site and from non-registered users, has been the subject of public and legal scrutiny. The patent application still mentions how actions taken on third-party websites—purchases made and advertisements engaged on an e-commerce website, for example—may be communicated to Facebook’s social networking server and added to an “action log” corresponding to the user.
Since the service expansion in 2020 already opened video calls to people without a Facebook account, the introduction of joint activity recommendations, should Facebook choose to do so upon receiving patent approval, would be another way for the company to leverage collected user data.
Facebook Inc.’s patent application, “Dynamic Shared Experience Recommendations”, was filed with the USPTO on February 6, 2020 and published on June 10, 2021. The listed investors are Suchada Sutasirisap, John Kilcline, Tomas Brennessl, Tianyu Li.