Thursday, May 22, 2014

Facebook Grows Ears

A new feature in Facebook's mobile app is a timely reminder of the eavesdropping potential of smartphones.

The feature uses the built-in microphones in mobile devices to determine what music a user is listening to or what television show or movie they are watching. The company unveiled the feature Wednesday and said it would be available for Android and iOS users in the United States in coming weeks.

The feature doesn't operate automatically, and the user must turn it on for it to work, said Facebook product manager Aryeh Selekman. But if a user leaves the feature turned on, it will listen as they use the Facebook app to write status updates, upload photos or respond to messages from friends.

However, "no sound is stored and you’ll always get to choose whether you post to your friends," Selekman said in a blog post. (more)

Friends, maybe. But what about hackers, law enforcement and determined enemies? 
I can't imagine how this feature could work without the sound being stored for some amount of time. FutureWatch: You'll be hearing more about this.