Marketing firms scan online snaps

19th-century-photographerMarketing firms are scanning the 1.8 billion photos posted every day to social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook looking for clues about what to peddle you.

US company Ditto Labs has created a program which ‘reads’ digital photos Software scans photos for brands and analyses the facial expression with it.

This data then builds profiles of people to help targeted advertising. Apparently, this is being used by Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Procter & Gamble and Adidas.

The software, created by Ditto Labs in Massachusetts, also ‘reads’ the background, the person’s clothing and even the location of the photo in a bid to glean as much information as possible as the customer and how they view the product or brand.

The wealth of information is then used to set up a profile which spells out exactly how that customer should be targeted by advertisers.

Liberty rights campaigners have warned the process goes ‘far beyond’ what most users should expect and that companies should seek permission before passing on the information to third parties.

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, a campaign group set up to challenge policies which it believes threatens privacy, said  scanning our photos for logos and certain backdrops will go far beyond what many would expect companies to do with the photos we post.

“If companies want to use our data in this way, explicit permission should be sought. It is also only right that users ask for complete transparency about what data will be collected, analysed and who it will be sold on to,” she said.

Computer scientists began creating the program more than a decade ago. Other brands include Adidas, which, through the program, discovered that 13 percent of its ‘Adidas population’ are also interested in Justin Bieber. Of course, 87 percent want him killed on sight. Budweiser has found that beer drinking generally peaks at 11PM, presumably because its customers are returning their rented product.