If you noticed not too long ago, Facebook pushed an update for the Facebook application for your mobile phone. You might not have realized, however, is that it introduces a new feature to its app. This feature will allow them to listen to our conversations and surroundings through our own phones’ microphone everytime we post a update to Facebook.
Sure, Facebook says that they will respect your privacy while this happens, but from my point of view, I do not see how this will actually happen.
Let’s take a look at what this will supposedly do first.
This new feature will purportedly work just like Soundhound or Shazam: it will try to match an audio from your environment with one in its database. Its eventual goal is to figure out if you’re listening to particular song or watching a TV show like The Simpsons.
Why I am skeptical?
Well, Soundhound or Shazam works by taking a clip recorded, uploading it to their own servers, then processing it with a outcome that will be sent to your phone. It will use their server poweress to match the audio clip with their database to see if any matches. This is exactly how they keep the application footprint low, on your phone, especially those without any opportunity to expand its memory.
Now, according to Facebook, these audio clips recorded apparently never leaves the phone, BUT, it is then compared with Facebook’s database of music and television shows. So how is this done offline if the application footprint (size) is so small? There’s no way to do it, without the involvement of the Facebook’s server, which means, these clips will still reach them!
The fact that a match has been made will be logged, makes it even more scary. Nonetheless, the question of the day is whether if you feel confident that Facebook won’t store any of the sounds recorded by your smart phones and whether these audio “fingerprints” are scanned only to identify songs.
If you are a fan of conspiracy theory, we also have another item on Facebook today, which is Facebook are looking to recruit sociologists. With the vast amount of data that they have on you, including the additional data that they seek from your behaviour above, think about what they could do with them? That said, we shall leave you to think about the privacy impact this might have on your life, if any!