Facebook is at the center of all that is wrong with this world. Am I wrong? Do I sound overly bitter today? I think it’s because I’m just tired of hearing about all the things that they’re doing to its users. There was a time that I loved Facebook, and I still use other social networking platforms, but I am happy to say that I’m no longer a Facebook user. Sure, they likely have all the data that they need on me and have used it in any number of nefarious ways. But at least I took some control back when I deleted the app and said goodbye.
What seems to be happening is that Facebook may be turning on your microphone in order to hear your reaction to ads. How is this even allowed? According to a new report, Facebook apparently owns a patent that allows them to do these kinds of things. The patent application, first reported by Metro, was published on June 14 and lays out how Facebook might remotely turn on your phone’s mic to start recording. Essentially, Facebook would embed high-pitched audio signals in “broadcast content” (think TV ads) that would be inaudible to humans. But whereas our ears wouldn’t be able to discern it, “a client device” such as your phone would be able to hear it.
That signal would instruct your phone to record the “ambient audio” surrounding it, and then send an “ambient audio fingerprint” back to Facebook for analysis.
Again, I ask the question – how is this even allowed? The application abstract also indicates:
“The online system, based on the ambient audio data, identifies the corresponding individual and content item and logs an impression for the content item upon determination that there was an impression of the identified content item by the identified individual.”
What does this mean exactly? Well, it sounds like, any kind of advertisement could prompt our phones to record whatever our reaction might be. This would be great for advertisers. I mean, if only Don Draper had this information at his disposal. Maybe he wouldn’t have been so grumpy? The question we need to consider is whether or not Facebook can do this without your permission. The answer is hopefully, no, but there are other ways that Facebook could use this technology for their own benefit.
Facebook says that they have no plans to implement the technology in the patent application, but then why are they getting it patented, to begin with? Facebook argues that this is a common practice to patent technology that may never be used for competitive reasons. There are a few things I want to say about this – 1) We’ve all heard Zuckerberg say things and then do the opposite, so why would we trust him now? And 2) You’ve seen the photo of Mark Zuckerberg with his webcam taped over his MacBook? Well, this is why. So if it’s not good for Zuckerberg, then why would it be good for the rest of the world?