Facebook Listens? New TV, Music App Records Sound Through Phone, Microphone; Rumors Say it’s a ‘Big Brother Move’

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
May 29, 2014 Updated: May 29, 2014

Facebook said it would roll out a feature called “Identify TV and Music” to allow users to identify and tag music and TV programs playing in their area via Facebook.

When users start to create their status update, Facebook will then activate the smartphone’s microphone to try and detect audio that’s playing. If a matching sample of the audio is found, then it will attempt to match it to a song; Facebook will then include a sample of it in the status.

“When writing a status update — if you choose to turn the feature on — you’ll have the option to use your phone’s microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV,” Facebook says. “That means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing.”

It added: “If you share music, your friends can see a 30-second preview of the song. For TV shows, the story in News Feed will highlight the specific season and episode you’re watching, so you can avoid any spoilers and join in conversations with your friends after you’ve caught up.”

The feature will have to be given permission to start by the user first. When it is activated, an icon on the phone will show up to let users know their phone’s microphone is turned on.

Facebook later said that the app won’t be used to listen in on conversations.

“Nope, no matter how interesting your conversation, this feature does not store sound or recordings. Facebook isn’t listening to or storing your conversations,” Facebook says.

“Here’s how it works: if you choose to turn the feature on, when you write a status update, the app converts any sound into an audio fingerprint on your phone. This fingerprint is sent to our servers to try and match it against our database of audio and TV fingerprints. By design, we do not store fingerprints from your device for any amount of time. And in any event, the fingerprints can’t be reversed into the original audio because they don’t contain enough information.”

However, a number of people were spreading a rumor saying that Facebook will “listen to our conversations through our own phones’ microphone. Talk about a Big Brother move,” according to Snopes.

“Not only is this move just downright creepy, it’s also a massive threat to our privacy. This isn’t the first time Facebook has been criticized for breaching our right to privacy, and it’s hoping this feature will fly under the radar. No such luck for Facebook. If we act now, we can stop Facebook in its tracks before it has a chance to release the feature,” the statement also said.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.