Facebook is taking advantage of recent advances in artificial intelligence in order to use the technology to map the geographic location of its members in high resolution for the first time.
This is to be achieved by using automated software to scan satellite imagery to pick out man-made structures to create a global heat map of habitation for use by a planned fleet of internet-relaying drones.
Facebook believes that the data can be harnessed for other ends too, such as socio-economic research and conducting risk assessments into natural disasters allowing emergency services to respond more rapidly.
Not all are so sanguine about the impact however with Emily Taylor, associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank, warning that ‘This takes knowing your customers to ‘stalker-like levels’.
Previous attempts at mapping population have been ham-strung by the low resolution data but Facebook believes its hi-tech approach will produce a resource with unprecedented detail.