Facebook wants to figure out if you're middle class

It's no secret that Facebook has access to a huge amount of data, and some of that data may be used for determining a user's socioeconomic status. According to a newly discovered patent, Facebook has developed a system (or perhaps just a system concept) that figures out whether users belong to one of three different socioeconomic groups, one being "middle class." This determination would be made based on info the user has provided, including things like homeownership.

Facebook collects large amounts of data on users, much of it provided by the users themselves. When creating a profile, many users voluntarily provide basic info like their education level and the institution they attended, where they live, where they work, their role at their company, how old they are, and more.

Based on the Facebook patent, which was discovered by CBInsights, the social company may be able to use this information to get an idea of where someone falls financially and socially. This is based on data trees with various questions, one starting with how old the user is and then looking at things like the number of WiFi devices they use, whether they own a house, their highest level of education, and the city their house is located in if they have one.

Certain things are shown as increasing a user's likelihood of being middle class, and those things depend on age. Someone who is, for example, 40 years old and not a homeowner is shown with a decreased likelihood compared to a 20-something who is judged more heavily based on the number of WiFi devices they have and their highest education level.

Someone with just a high school diploma is shown as having "+5%" likelihood toward middle class status, for example, versus someone with a graduate degree, which gets "+15%" status. In the older age group, the location of someone's home gives them points of varying degrees. Other potentially relevant info indicated by the patent includes household info, travel history, and a user's Internet usage.

Why would Facebook be interested in determining a user's socioeconomic status? Advertisers and marketers are a key part of Facebook's existence and being able to specifically target certain groups of people with products relevant to them is no doubt of interest. The patent states that such class info is relevant to "third parties to increase awareness about products or services to online users."