Here’s yet another reason to hate Facebook. A new update to iOS and Android app versions of the worst invention in the history of civilization will allow Facebook to automatically detect the music you’re listening to or the television program you’re watching. “Automatically,” as in it automatically has access to the microphone on your mobile device.
F Privacy, Because Facebook, Right?
I’ll repeat that last part—the new mobile update will give Facebook automatic access to your smartphone’s microphone. Then, using a Shazam-like system created using Spotify, Rdio, and other APIs, a 30-second clip of the song or show you’re currently enjoying will be spat out into your newsfeed. Hashtags will be included where applicable, which makes it all the more awful.
Like every one of Facebook’s continuing privacy invading updates, users can “choose to opt out” of sharing the automatically collected information in their newsfeeds. You would think, with such a huge potential invasion of privacy like this, users have to choose to “opt in” instead. Facebook’s press release uses the word “optional” in the title, but once the app updates on your device, you’re sharing automatically.
And, like those previous updates, even if you “opt out,” Facebook will still collect the data and use it for their own nefarious purposes, like shoving more and more targeted ads into your face every chance they get.
“A New Way to Share”
Facebook is attempting to spin the update that automatically gives them access to your device’s microphone so it can listen to you as “a new way to share and discover music, TV and movies,” according to FB’s Arveh Selekman.
From that angle, it seems that Facebook is looking to compete with Twitter when it comes to real time discussions of entertainment, specifically TV shows. Twitter hashtags and “live tweets” from shows’ stars are increasingly popular ways to engage viewers, and Facebook is apparently after a piece of that action. Reportedly, Facebook has struck deals with numerous US TV stations to allow their app to detect the necessary information from broadcasts by automatically accessing the microphone on your smartphone.
The Newest Wave in the Privacy Invasion
Okay, Facebook, I’ll bite—you just want to help users join the conversation on their favorite movies, shows, and music. But what, then, of your other recent updates?
Such as the one in February 2014, for example, that allows your company to access users’ text messages and personal calendars? What about the Moves fitness app you recently purchased, which tracks users’ locations and movement? Or WhatsApp, the messaging service you so famously snatched up for a few billion dollars not long ago? What benefits do those give your users?
More specifically, what benefit does one single giant corporation having access to all that information give your users? I’m only asking because this whole mess you’ve cooked up sounds sort of familiar.