back to article Not content with distorting actual reality, Facebook now wants to build a digital layer for the world

By permitting conspiracies and blatant falsehoods to circulate unchallenged, Facebook made denial of reality a nasty feature of actual reality. And now the Silicon Valley juggernaut has decided it wants to figure out how to build a digital layer that overlays the real world. News of the effort came at Facebook’s annual Connect …

  1. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Flame

    > Facebook promises they won’t go into restaurants or shops without written consent, and will never record in “sensitive areas like restrooms, prayer rooms, locker rooms, or in sensitive meetings and other private situations.”

    Ahem, excuse me, when I'm walking down the high street, that is also a private situation as far as I'm concerned, and I will not take kindly to being filmed (which is what these monstrosities will be doing).

    And I simply do not believe any reassurances FB may care to utter regarding privacy. Their record on privacy is about as solid as... something not in the least solid.

    More evil from the masters of evil.

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      That's what

      The lanyards for. You can read the explanation and then throttle them with it. We all know it'll happen after the Google disaster

      1. Snake Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        My thoughts exactly

        "That's what [t]he lanyards for. You can read the explanation and then throttle them with it."

    2. BenM 29
      Meh

      >>Ahem, excuse me, when I'm walking down the high street, that is also a private situation as far as I'm concerned,

      Legally, in the UK, a person has no expectation of privacy in a public place; anyone can take pictures or record you for any reason they like.

      This https://www.supremecourt.uk/docs/speech_100825.pdf goes ito some detail....

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Seems strange that the police don't seem to be aware of that?

        1. Citizen of Nowhere

          Not aware? Or, quite happy to overstep their legal authority if they believe they can get away with it?

      2. Citizen of Nowhere

        The contents of the speech do not really support the statement that "anyone can take pictures or record you for any reason they like". Just one example, from the speech: "Last year a peaceful demonstrator against the arms trade, with no criminal record, succeeded in the Court of Appeal in a claim for invasion of privacy after he had been photographed by the police."

        Who you are, who is doing the photographing/recording and their reason for doing it, are all taken into account in cases where invasion of privacy is alleged in a UK court. It is true that we do not have laws which explicitly grant "image rights" as some other countries do, but its a bit more nuanced than you suggest.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          It likely is, but personally I consider that, when I'm in a public area, what I'm doing is public as well. If someone takes a picture and I'm on it, then so be it.

          However, anyone specifically taking a picture of me is going to have to answer some questions - if I notice, that is.

          1. Citizen of Nowhere

            >anyone specifically taking a picture of me is going to have to answer some questions - if I notice, that is.

            Which is fair enough. I am a photographer in my non-work time and on some few occasions when someone objected that they were in a photograph I have taken, I have always deleted them. Even though there is no legal obligation on me to do so, just seems like the right thing to do. When told by the police, or by security guards, on the other hand, that I cannot photograph in a public space ("you're including a private building" -- irrelevant; "our company has image rights" -- no, you really don't; "you can't photograph here because we say so" -- on what legal basis?) I may move on, but the photographs stay on the memory card.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            In this age of wearing face masks

            all you need are some dark glasses (or Ski Mask or BOJO mask) and FaeceBook can go to hell.

            But in general, this will go down like a lead baloon.

            But the Vampires have to keep on trying to suck the living daylights out of us.

            The sooner FB, Google and the rest are consigned to history the better.

            I think that Zuck in an orange jumpsuit would look right at home.

    3. Craig 2

      "when I'm walking down the high street, that is also a private situation as far as I'm concerned"

      If you really believe that then you should never leave your house again, or permit any family members to leave, or do anything online, or buy anything with a credit/debit card etc etc...

      1. Adair Silver badge

        But this isn't a binary situation, is it? When I walk out I can reasonably have an expectation (if not an actual 'right') of anonymity. If someone happens to snap a pic that includes me randomly walking past on the other side of the street, so what.

        If, however, I am walking around with a virtual bubble over my head saying: "Adair, lives at Pigsty Villas; off to buy his daily caramel cream filth from 'The Bastard Baristas'" I should have reason to not be happy. Or, even if the 'photographer' intentionally picks me out and makes fun of my ugly mug on Instanarcissist.

        So, anonymity and public presence can co-exist, and generally do, but usually according to well understood social conventions that preserve (up to a point) our dignity and privacy.

    4. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      FAIL

      "Ahem, excuse me, when I'm walking down the high street, that is also a private situation as far as I'm concerned, and I will not take kindly to being filmed (which is what these monstrosities will be doing)."

      If you live in the UK, which I assume you do by your use of language, I have some very bad news for you . . .

      1. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4

        I don't.

    5. X5-332960073452

      I'll be wearing my lanyard, with you agree to pay me my appearance fee of £ lots

      Works for parking companies !

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boycott Facebook

    Come on. This scourge needs stamped out.

    1. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4

      Re: Boycott Facebook

      I emptied and then deleted my personal profile and all my company pages about three months ago. Absolultely no regrets.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Boycott Facebook

        Never been on FartBook. Never felt the need and after their 'going all Big Brother' I', really glad that I never did.

      2. Arty Effem

        Re: Boycott Facebook

        You mean you prevented them being visible to anyone viewing your profile, friend or otherwise.

  3. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Lanyards...

    "... they’ll wear a lanyard explaining what they are up to..."

    Great, and I'll wear one explaining that by my rights under GDPR, I want all data about me gathered by these snoopers to immediately be destroyed.

    1. Robert Grant Silver badge

      Re: Lanyards...

      Note: must be personally identifiable.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        must be personally identifiable

        Re photos in public places, it is still not clearly established under precisely what conditions the GDPR rights apply, so the grey areas will continue to be exploited until clear precedent emerges. This could of course be an opportunity to apply for that precedent (provided you have the dosh).

        However, quite apart from the privacy question, this is yet one more departure from direct contact with the real world, which can only further degrade human engagement with life, the universe and everything . One day our entire lives will be mediated by some flat screen or other, and nobody will realise until too late how much interesting (and indeed important) detail has been filtered out.

        If properly cultivated, the sensitivity of direct human sensory perception beats anything mediated by our technologies hands down - typically by several orders of magnitude. Lose that advantage and life could well seem, to quote Hamlet, "weary, stale and unprofitable"

        1. MrDamage

          Re: must be personally identifiable

          With Faecesbook access to all of the image data it has (including pictures of you uploaded by others, even if you do not have a FB/Insta presence), one could argue that their public harvesting of data, especially your very identifiable face, is an infringement under the GDPR.

          Given their history of abusing personal data, why should we give them the benefit of the doubt to start with?

      2. Triggerfish

        Re: Lanyards...

        Considering they already have image and face matching built into facebook, and plenty of your info on there likely even if you kicked facebook years ago...

  4. SundogUK Silver badge

    Are these people so young they don't remember what happened to Google Glass?

    1. BinkyTheHorse

      And since these are willing Facebook employees, there's little motivation against vigorously exercising one's right to privacy.

      Not that I condone violence - but mass surveillance by a megacorp is a form of violence as well.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Oh, goody.

    The return of the glassholes. Now with extra spyware.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Oh, goody.

      "and will never record in “sensitive areas like restrooms, prayer rooms, locker rooms" ... we know how well this worked out with ZOOM meetings don't we?

    2. DS999

      How the hell

      Will it figure out it is in a restaurant or locker room or whatever? GPS isn't accurate to that degree indoors. Do they really think they can use image recognition to recognize "restaurant" or "locker room"?

      They're just saying that to reduce the prelaunch backlash. The real backlash will come if this turd is actually launched and their assurances about where it won't record are shown to be false.

  6. Christoph

    Great news

    Business people will be able to hold virtual meetings or chat to their mistresses while hammering up the M1 at 90.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Great news

      Bless you, my child. You carefully say 'business people' (one gold star) and then say 'mistresses', so people = men (oops). OTOH, I don't put it past female executives to have a comely lass on the side.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: Great news. What's not to like.

        I don't put it past female executives to have a comely lass on the side. .... Hollerithevo

        Oh, you are awful, ... but I like you, Hollerithevo :-)

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Great news

        Oh, Hollerithevo .... say it ain't so!

        Shirley you, of all people, aren't suggesting that the only females worth executive status are of a particular persuasion! That would make you one of those evil —ists, and I'd hate to think that of you.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    Farceholes

    So, unable to learn from the public reaction to Google's ' Glassholes', Zuck wants to go a couple of steps further in his bid to conquer the world's social data in every respect.

    " Imagine calling a friend and having their avatar siiting opposite you"? More smart pollution from ear bud wearing idiots shouting at unseen people, and they laugh at old men shouting at clouds?

  8. Little Mouse

    Where is the plane of Focus in AR?

    For traditional 3D fun, e.g. IMAX, 3DTV, or VR headsets, your eyes focus on a single fixed-distance 2D plane. The virtual stuff appears to be in front of or behind that plane, but your eyes' focus stays fixed on the screen, and your brain does a pretty decent job (or not, in my case) of pretending not to notice the discrepancy.

    But in Real Life, I need my eyes to focus on the actual position of the physical object that I am looking at.

    How is it possible to overlay the two in AR? How can I focus on the virtual person sitting on a physical chair if my eyes need to be focussed on two different things at the same time to do so?

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: Where is the plane of Focus in AR?

      I recall in the past (late 80s? who can remember) seeing a demo by some (IIRC) Canadian researchers of a screen overlay that altered the focus for each (small) region of a screen. The user/customer/victim's eyes would compensate by altering their lens until the object of interest was in focus (and much of the rest of the screen out of focus), providing another cue to "3D" viewing. The goal was to have a convincing 3D appearance with only one screen o render. Well, two, the "video" and the "focus adjustment, to lower resolution.

      I am far from enough of a boffin to judge ho wwell this would have worked, as it was not a strong effect for me, but there was some effect, and it was not physically painful the way "we know all eyes are spaced exactly the same" typical 2-screen images.

      Note that they were touting this for "not all that interactive" stuff like movies and typical Laser-Disk games, so could be pre-rendered.

      Not the case for something seeking to auto-slander everyone in sight without massive amounts of layer-sheer.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder how well they will work

    after they've been punched to the back of the wearer's head?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Facebook is going to have the world's biggest dataset on one particular life experience

    They'll be able to write the book on the experience of being punched in the face

  11. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Holmes

    meaningful and contextually-relevant information

    That'll be adverts, then...

  12. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    "By permitting conspiracies and blatant falsehoods to circulate unchallenged"

    Just like paper making companies allow people to make leaflets doing the same. Megaphone manufacturers. Banner producers. Email accounts. Almost like its a media format or something.

    However as for the tech, good luck giving it a go. Google glasses fell over, maybe this one will succeed where it failed but probably not. Eventually someone might achieve it and it might be desirable. Or not.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      Email accounts allow person-to-person communication, not publishing. Paper manufacturers make printing possible, not distribution. Megaphone and banner manufacturers may make distribution easier, but they do not provide the venue for it to happen. Facebook is a venue for distribution to happen. Find better comparisons.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        @doublelayer

        "Email accounts allow person-to-person communication, not publishing."

        Spam

        "Paper manufacturers make printing possible, not distribution"

        Which people can do with lampposts, walls, handing them out, door to door.

        "Megaphone and banner manufacturers may make distribution easier, but they do not provide the venue for it to happen"

        Yet if people go to the venue where these things have been put up they will see them.

        Basically FB is a platform. Its people putting stuff on there (or advertisers) and so its not the platform at fault unless the platform is specifically participating in pushing falsehoods. There is so much stuff by so many people that FB cant be a filter without breaking it as a media form. And while some people want that due to green eyes and conspiracy theory that would just be stupid.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Meh

          You do not understand your own metaphors. Let's limit ourselves to two examples. The worst, email, and the best, megaphones. Best still means bad.

          Email: It's not a public platform. I can spam, but only if I have your email address, and you can block me, and the email spec doesn't provide me any resources which amplify my message. If I want to send out lots of emails, I need to provide my own resources. Facebook provides resources and a method to push a message to many people, most of which are not specifically targeted by it.

          Megaphones: These let me shout a message out. That's distribution, so it's a better metaphor than email. However, a megaphone is only useful if I can shout through it where people will hear. If I use a megaphone in a deserted forest, nobody will pay attention. I have to use a public place, a venue, in order for my message to get out. So, the people who run that venue have the choice to let me do that or to make me stop. Facebook is such a venue, and they provide tools that have similar power to a megaphone there. They have the ability to stop someone there and the ability to let them continue.

          Opinions differ about whether Facebook should be responsible for this kind of thing. That might be fun to debate. I'm not doing that yet. Instead, I'm focusing on these hideously inaccurate comparisons. That's not how Facebook works, so if you intend on arguing your point by comparing two things that are not similar, we couldn't actually debate the point in question.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            @doublelayer

            "You do not understand your own metaphors. Let's limit ourselves to two examples. The worst, email, and the best, megaphones. Best still means bad."

            Ok. So what is a good metaphor for a very public place that people can freely go to and put up anything they like from the mundane to the profane which many people will then be audience to worldwide? Hence many metaphors of things that dont exactly do the same thing, which is oddly how FB fills that niche.

            So if you have a better one feel free... Nope... just "focusing on these hideously inaccurate comparisons" as if you had nothing better to add to the actual discussion.

    2. DS999

      Translation:

      "If we can't circulate blatant falsehoods like 'Biden is a pedophile' our guy won't win"

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Translation:

        @DS999

        Likewise if the falsehoods of the Russia collaboration dossier cant circulate. Except facebook is a platform and yet news outlets can actually talk shit on TV (Maddows and the tax thing being an obvious one but both sides have their outlets).

        Facebook is a platform for people to put stuff on. Instead of blaming the people for some reason FB is getting the blame.

  13. Inkey
    Gimp

    Eye bleach sold seperatly

    Aria search .... blue waffle .....images ....open all

  14. TimMaher Bronze badge
    Coat

    Joe 90

    Anyone remember that?

    Mine’s the one with... oh, never mind.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: Joe 90

      I was thinking of "Kingsman", but only because I watched the second film in the franchise last night.

  15. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Quite a Prime Challenge indeed. And only the Best at Practically Everything will Surely Succeed.

    But Facebook isn’t sure it is on the right track, ...

    What's not to like and love? And how would anyone/anything else ever effectively compete and better that novel system/invisible and intangible remotely connected virulent environment?

    Bravo, Facebook. Way to Go in Deed ...... and IT's Real Sp00Key No Nonsense Stuff.:-) A Q would be proud and impressed and excited to have that sort of hardware for agents toiling and foiling in the vast open sourced fields of phantom contest and empirical conquest ........ where thoughts of Absolute Dominion are both pervasive and corrosive, subversive and totally destructive.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They never saw it coming

    The last bit of digital film recovered from the heavily damaged headset was of an unknown masked individual nudging the FB employee into oncoming traffic.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: They never saw it coming

      an unknown masked individual

      “will use sensors to capture video and audio from the wearer’s point of view, as well as eye movement and location data to help our engineers and programmers figure out how AR can work in practice.”

      So, apparently no cameras looking backwards.

      Oh, how unfortunate ...

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: They never saw it coming

        I have glasses from a Christmas cracker that have mirrored reflective strips on the outside edge. They make me look like a twat, but I can see behind me.

        Proof of concept is good, there's no reason not to have rear-viewing cameras in the specs. Probably radar too since children will throw rocks at you.

  17. RM Myers Silver badge
    Joke

    What's wrong with Facebook distorting digital reality?

    After all, someone needed to take on the responsibility after St. Steven left earth to join the heavenly host. And yes, I realize other people were distorting reality in technology even before the great one passed on. You didn't expect them to take on this solemn responsibility without some on the job learning period, did you? And what better time to learn than when the master was still among us, wowing the iSheep with tales of personal accomplishments not personally accomplished.

    Besides, politicians have been distorting reality at least since homo sapiens first banded together to form city-states.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: What's wrong with Facebook distorting digital reality?

      Are you Registering as Indifferent or an Interested and/or Interesting Fan, RM Myers?

      Only the one that is positive has you any chance of benefiting inordinately from future developments in the vanguard of enterprises rather than having to settle for outdated crumbs in the caboose of unfulfilled dreams.

  18. Keith Oborn

    David Eggers "The Circle"

    "Sharing is Caring".

    One step nearer the precipice here.

    1. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: David Eggers "The Circle"

      Conversely, David Brin's "The Transparent Society." Brin envisioned universal surveillance as a double-edged sword, to be sure, but one that could benefit society as well as harm it.

      1. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: David Eggers "The Circle"

        Excuse my unforgivable sin of misquoting something I can't source, but during the French revolution an English Earl said he'd rather see a dozen murders on the old Kent Road than suffer from state surveillance.

        Current surveillance in the UK is bad enough, and it's a one edged sword. Sure, if I commit a crime then the police have the footage, but if I'm the victim of crime (esp police crime) then I have no access.

        I appreciate that increasing video access among the public has held police slightly accountable, from Rodney King to whoever their latest victim is.

        I just recall walking through the local cop shop in the mid nineties, it had a wall of about sixty screens showing live footage around my wee town.

        I'm open to persuasive argument. I used to be against mass DNA collection, when I didn't know how commonplace sexual assault is.

  19. Sleep deprived
    Stop

    "The device will shine a white light to indicate when Facebook’s AR explorers are exploring"

    Will an approching car or bicycle also shine a light inside the glasses or will wearers keep walking blindly in the pursuit of unseen objects à la Pokemon?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: "The device will shine a white light to indicate when Facebook’s AR explorers are exploring"

      Will an approching car or bicycle also shine a light inside the glasses or will wearers keep walking blindly in the pursuit of unseen objects à la Pokemon?

      They won't be able to see Pokemon. They'll see exciting marketing messages colored and pulsed at precisely the correct rates to maximise calls to action! Or once hackers figure it out, Scorpion Stare, lifelike images of Cthulhu, or some old goat's ex.

      On the other hand, Facepalm has a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the lack of privacy violates by the FTC, SEC, EEC and every regulator under the sun mandating all Facepalm employees wear these glasses at all times. With the results streamed for all the world to view. I'm still convinced that the best way to get companies to implement meaningful privacy and data collection standards is to insist that those companies publish those data for their executives, in real-time.

  20. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Meh

    Facebook Is In Our Prayers

    Facebook promises they won’t go into restaurants or shops without written consent, and will never record in “sensitive areas like restrooms, prayer rooms, locker rooms, or in sensitive meetings and other private situations.”

    .

    At least the prayer rooms are safe. Very nearly every British shop / firm / factory / farm / garage / restaurant etc. has one, and is very protective of it.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Facebook Is In Our Prayers

      Do they have wall mounted ceramic fixtures, or just holes in the ground like Italy and Spain?

  21. JavaJester
    Stop

    Black Mirror Arkangel

    This reminds me of the Black Mirror Arkangel episode, albeit with the ability to remove the glasses. Over time the glasses could become so instrumental to day to day life that removing them would put the person at a disadvantage. Kind of like our portable tracking devices phones have become.

    1. keldin@reg

      Re: Black Mirror Arkangel

      Upload on Amazon Prime was very VR - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upload_(TV_series)

  22. Suburban Inmate
    Black Helicopters

    No Such Assurances

    "Faces and car licence plates will be blurred"

    Will that be before or after the No Such Agency (and friends) have been given a copy?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: No Such Assurances

      Well, seeing as the processing will be done on the servers back at Facebook, and undoubtedly they will make a backup of the raw data before blurring them out (just in case the software blurs too much, of course) .... well, you tell me. How long does Facebook keep their backups?

  23. steviebuk Silver badge

    We have history books for a reason

    So we can learn from fuck ups. Google glassholes ended up getting punched on a few occasions. I don't condone that, punching them for wearing knobby tech is wrong and a cunt move but it won't end well with the Facebook glasses either.

    I was piss poor at predicting the popularity of smartphones but can say for sure, these WON'T be a phone killer. As a spectacle wearer they are fucking annoying.

  24. keldin@reg

    Just Say NO

    Technology in search of a use case where none exists. We don't need or want VR in reality. How about we just live in reality for real :)

    Another reason to limit Facebook entries, I have very few and erase after 30days. Facebook doesn't need my post from 5 years ago.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Just Say NO

      And yet, Facebook does have your posts from 5 years ago. And everything else you have ever posted, regardless of what you think you have deleted. It's what they do.

  25. 759b954e-617b-408b-a2b1-f5a42c3688d4
    Trollface

    It would be unfortunate if

    someone hacked the glasses and turned them solid black while the FB minion wearing them was walking down some steps.

  26. The Central Scrutinizer

    If that nonsense ever goes ahead, I predict an awful lot of sudden and catastrophic hardware failures caused by the general public.

  27. Semper Phoenix
    Angel

    Ah, Douglas, how we miss thee....

    His Joo Janta 200 Super-Chromatic Peril Sensitive Sunglasses come to mind....

    https://hitchhikers.fandom.com/wiki/Joo_Janta_200_Super-Chromatic_Peril_Sensitive_Sunglasses

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