A new patent filing by telecom giant AT&T reveals that the firm is interested in mapping the social media history of its users over a blockchain-based platform. This patent, published on Thursday on the United States Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) is named ‘BLOCKCHAIN-BASED SOCIAL MEDIA HISTORY MAPS.’ The patent describes a method by which AT&T would track the social media history of the users on their behalf.
This has two-pronged benefits: for the users as well as for businesses/service providers. For the users, this is useful because even if certain of their tweets or posts are censored – this blockchain map would ensure that they remain with them stored on their history forever.
Digging deeper into this patent application reveals that the patent also talks about tracking ‘career interests’ of the users. This indicates that this service might also be beneficial to prospective employers who are looking for people interested in working for them. Another useful aspect of this technology comes in the form of trend analysis – organizations can understand the sentiment about their brands as this technology can act as a tool for sentiment analysis.
Here’s what the abstract of this patent reads:
A system may include a transaction history controller to store, in a distributed blockchain database, a first chain including a primary head node for a first subscriber to a social media history map service and multiple blocks each representing an online transaction for the first subscriber, and a second chain including a follower head node, linked to the primary head node, for a second subscriber and multiple blocks each representing an online transaction for the second subscriber.
The transaction history controller may receive data representing a first online transaction for the second subscriber, format the data for the distributed blockchain database, store the formatted data as a new block in the second chain, receive a request to generate a trend report for a cluster of subscribers that includes the first and second subscribers, and generate the trend report dependent on the blocks in the first and second chains.
With a service such as this, questions about privacy would obviously be raised. Especially due to the fact that there are certain sections in this patent application where it is mentioned that the shopping behaviour of the users would also be tracked and recorded on the blockchain platform. This raises concerns over the fact that if this data reaches marketers, it would allow them to unleash a personalized targeted marketing campaign on the users custom-made for them.
An opt-in program is considered as a solution to this privacy-related problem where the users would be able to allow to provide selective portions – or even complete access to their data to marketing firms in exchange for a compensation for providing their information. This is expected to be a win-win solution for both the parties involved. It would be interesting to see if this does get converted into an actual product.