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Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A new patent from Facebook describes a system that would use data points it collects on the user — like education, travel history, the number of devices owned, and homeownership — to predict their socioeconomic status. The patent was spotted by CBInsights.

Why it matters: The social network, which is already coming under fire for knowing too much about its users, could use such a system to better target ads and content to specific audiences.

Despite that scrutiny, getting more granular information about users is key to helping advertisers (its customers) reach specific people at specific times. Another recent Facebook patent would allow the company to detect and respond to users' emotions, CBInsights found.

How it works: The patent describes a system that uses a decision tree to classify users. Certain data points would be assigned probability scores to predict their class.

  • For example, a user between 30 and 40 years old that owns a home would be assigned 10 points if they live in San Jose, 20 points for Menlo Park and 30 points for Palo Alto, presumably ranking the Bay Area cities based on typical housing prices.

Reality check: Companies file patents all the time without ever following through on developing the technology. Facebook may never put such a system into use, even though it's clear the company has interest in it.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Islamic State claims responsibility for deadly bombing in southern Afghanistan

The mosque after the explosion in southern Kandahar province on Oct. 15. Photo: Murteza Khaliqi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a massive blast that tore through a crowded Shiite mosque in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar on Friday, killing at least 47 people and injuring dozens more, AP reports.

Why it matters: Friday's attack was the deadliest to strike Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrew its troops from the region and is the second major attack on a Shiite mosque in a week, underscoring the Taliban's growing security threat from other militant groups.

New wave of strikes will test worker power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Thousands of John Deere workers hit the picket line this week after the union smacked down a new worker contract from the farm and equipment maker.

Why it matters: There’s a wave of worker angst spreading across the country. They wield new power that’s come with a historic worker shortage.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
4 hours ago - Technology

The smart city comes of age

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Better sensors, more intelligent AI, and the coming wave of 5G wireless could finally fulfill the promise of the smart city.

Why it matters: How we organize, run and power our cities will be increasingly important in the years ahead, as urbanization expands and the damaging effects of climate change compound.