- On Monday evening, Facebook announced the acquisition of a mind-reading tech startup named CTRL-Labs. Facebook reportedly paid as much as $1 billion for the company.
- Reactions from the public to the acquisition were largely negative — the latest example of Facebook’s public perception following years of privacy scandals involving user data.
- “Oh. Look at that. Facebook’s newest venture: harvesting thoughts,” one reaction said. “I mean honestly who do y’all think you are. Don’t you own enough of our data already?” said another.
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Facebook just bought a company that makes mind-reading technology.
The company, CTRL-Labs, makes a wristband that is said to decode electrical signals from your brain. By wearing the wristband, the company says, you’ll be able to control a computer using your thoughts.
“You have neurons in your spinal cord that send electrical signals to your hand muscles telling them to move in specific ways such as to click a mouse or press a button,” Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth said in a Facebook post announcing the acquisition. “The wristband will decode those signals and translate them into a digital signal your device can understand, empowering you with control over your digital life.”
Notably, Facebook isn’t really in the consumer electronics business (with the exception of its Portal smart camera device). Facebook is mostly in the ad sales business, and it uses data provided by its users to power that business. As such, the device described above is being received as yet another way for Facebook to gather user data.
Worse: This time, the data collection is coming directly from your brain.
“I mean honestly who do y’all think you are,” one Twitter user said to Bosworth. “Don’t you own enough of our data already? Holy s— this is gross.”
This reaction was representative of most of the reactions to Bosworth’s tweet.
“Why would anyone want to give a company w/ FB’s business model knowing access to their spinal cord data?” another user responded. “How is that even an intuitive way to interact with a device? Given ya’ll’s privacy missteps, why shouldn’t the intuition be to instead avoid FB products as much as possible?”
One user got straight to the point: “This is scary.”
Facebook representatives did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the news.
Overall, the reactions mirror much of the public sentiment surrounding Facebook after years of data privacy controversies, which range from smaller scale blunders to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which personal data from over 87 million Facebook users had been improperly obtained by the political data-analytics firm.