Facebook wants to know where your cursor has been.
The social media giant already monitors in real-time certain parts of the facebook.com website that users click on, but now the company is in the process of testing technology that will gather data on what your cursor is hovering over.
Ken Rudin, Facebook's analytics chief, made the announcement in a Tuesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, during which time he announced that the 1.2 billion-person social network is also testing technology that will collect data on whether a user's newsfeed is visible on their mobile device.
The data gathered by Facebook could be used in any number of ways, including for product development or for “more precise targeting of advertising,” the Wall Street Journal reported Rudin as saying.
“Like most websites, we run numerous tests at any given time to ensure that we're creating the best experience possible for people on Facebook,” a Facebook spokesperson told SCMagazine.com in a Friday email.
The problem that websites, including Facebook, face these days when it comes to monitoring user behavior is that most people think government surveillance – particularly with regard to the National Security Agency (NSA).
Officials with Facebook are not thinking that way – or so they say.
“These experiments look at aggregate trends in how people interact with the site to inform future product decisions,” the Facebook spokesperson said. “We do not share this information with anyone outside of Facebook and we are not using this information to target ads.”
Only time will tell if this type of technology will see the light of day on Facebook, but if one thing is certain, the social media group is not pioneering it.
Shutterstock, a stock photography agency, records everything people do on its site, including how long a cursor hovers over an image before the picture is purchased.
“Today, we are looking at every move a user makes, in order to optimize the Shutterstock experience,” Jon Oringer, Shutterstock founder and CEO, told the Wall Street Journal in March. “All these new technologies can process that.”
One of those technologies that Oringer is talking about is Apache's Hadoop, which Facebook already uses.