Facebook’s new listening feature is drawing decidedly alarmed reactions from users on Twitter, raising privacy concerns and skepticism.
On Thursday, International Business Times reported that Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) will use a coming Android and iOS app update to collect data captured by users' smartphone’s microphones. It captures sounds in the user's environment -- songs, movies or television shows, but also potentially conversations -- based on what it hears. Once the sound is ID'd, users have the option to share it as a visual component of their posts.
Late Thursday and early Friday, Facebook users and journalists (including Barton Gellman of the Washington Post, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on NSA surveillance) took to Twitter to express their outrage, many echoing the same sentiment:
Seriously considering deleting the Facebook app on my phone. http://t.co/F1qRWqPblv
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â€” Olivier Knox (@OKnox) May 23, 2014
â€” Barton Gellman (@bartongellman) May 23, 2014
So, goodbye Facebook. http://t.co/6GVvkNW1su
â€” Roger May (@walkyourcamera) May 23, 2014
Though the pervasive social network company assured users that “no sound is stored” by the new feature, it conceded that “the data is saved, but all data is anonymized and aggregated.” Facebook declined to comment to IBT on how it planned to use the data once it’s gleaned.
At this time, the Facebook microphone feature is said to be opt-in, which allows users the option to decide whether or not to allow Facebook access to the microphone of their device. But until users find out more, they're largely skeptical.
Fears over Facebook’s new listening feature becoming ‘yet another spying tool’ http://t.co/HpJAJGvZgm
— Security (@Advent_IM) May 23, 2014
— Emma Frost (@ebretherick) May 23, 2014
Another installment of "Why does ANYONE use Facebook?" http://t.co/c0D2pJLfxb
— Kristi (@kristic_) May 23, 2014
— George Cohen (@grcohen) May 23, 2014
Facebook says they’re tapping smartphone mics, but they aren’t *listening,* they’re *just* turning audio into “code” http://t.co/umQK9D5qOU
— sarah jeong (@sarahjeong) May 22, 2014
— Tim Dickinson (@7im) May 21, 2014
Do You Want Facebook Listening to Your iPhone? http://t.co/MVGW0q5mtl
— William Réjault (@williamrejault) May 23, 2014
Do you plan on deleting the Facebook app once the company issues the update allowing them to access your smartphone’s microphone? Vote below. And if you have more to say, be sure to sound off in the comments section below.