Claim: The Facebook 'Identify TV and Music' app listens to and records sounds through your phone.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, May 2014]
Facebook says the feature will be used for harmless things, like identifying the song or TV show playing in the background, but it actually has the ability to listen to everything — including your private conservations — and store it indefinitely.
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.
Tell Facebook not to release its creepy and dangerous new app feature that listens to users' conversations.
Facebook says it'll be responsible with this feature, but we know we can't trust it. After all, just a few months ago Facebook came under fire for receiving millions of dollars for working with the National Security Agency's PRISM, a wide-scale and highly controversial public electronic data surveillance program — something its CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially denied. This is also the company that lied about its now-scuttered Beacon program — an advertisement system that sent our "private" data from external websites to Facebook.
It seems like every few months, there's another big Facebook privacy scandal, and yet the social media giant is pushing this new app anyway. Why? The information it gathers by listening to its
Origins: In May 2014 Facebook announced it would be rolling out an "Identify TV and Music" feature that would allow users who access the social media platform through their cell phones to identify and tag music or television programs playing in their area. When a user begins to compose a status update, Facebook will activate the phone's microphone, filter out live conversations, and try to detect and identify audio programming. If a matching song is found, Facebook will include a sample of the music in the status; if a matching television program is found, Facebook will label the specific season and episode "so you can avoid any spoilers":
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.
If you share music, your friends can see a
Facebook's announcement was later updated to address rumors that the new app would listen in on, and store, user conversations:
Fact: Nope, no matter how interesting your conversation, this feature does not store sound or recordings. Facebook isn't listening to or storing your conversations.
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.
Myth: Facebook is always listening using your microphone.
Fact: Nope, if you choose to turn this feature on, it will only use your microphone (for
Last updated: 31 July 2014
Hill, Kashmir. "Facebook Wants To Listen in on What You're Doing." Forbes. 22 May 2014. Tate, Ryan. "Facebook Will Soon Detect What You're Watching and Listening To." Wired. 21 May 2014. Tate, Ryan. "Why Facebook Spent a Year Learning to Listen in on Your TV Shows." Wired. 22 May 2014.