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Facebook has announced the arrival of their newest application, the Facebook microphone. This new feature will turn on the user’s microphone and record sounds that are coming from their background. The app will then convert the sounds into a status update which can be deleted, or it will be stored under the “Feelings” tab. Some may find this app appealing but there is anticipation for the large number of users who may feel that their privacy is being violated.
This new feature is optional and will only record sound if the app is activated by the user. Facebook has confirmed that no sound will be stored or shared to Facebook’s servers, however the data will be converted into code and saved. According to Facebook Spokesperson Momo Zhou, once the data is transformed into code it cannot be reversed. The storage of the information will allow Facebook to know what type of content users are listening to or watching.
The unknowns of where this stored data will go and with whom it may be shared is what is most likely to concern users as Facebook has not yet stated how the information will be used. Another potential privacy violation of this app is the sounds that are recorded. Sounds from anyone and anything in the background may be picked up, including voices of people who are not the direct user of the app.
This feature cannot be turned on through using Facebook on a browser, only through the Apple iOS and Android apps. Users will know that the app has been activated when blue bars appear on the screen stating that the microphone has been turned on, and when it is in use it will state that it is “matching” the sounds it picks up. Facebook’s microphone app will pick up on songs, television shows or movies that the user is listening to or watching. According to Aryeh Selekman, a Facebook Product Manager, the app will be able to distinguish the specific song, show or movie from over 100 stations. It will convert the sounds that were picked up into a status update which the user can delete at their discretion. For any songs that the microphone picks up and shares, the user’s friends will be able to preview the song directly through the feed without having to leave the page. Users have the choice of when they would like to activate and deactivate this app, if at all.
By: Sarah Temori