New Facebook Patent Reveals Tech That Will Turn On Your Smartphone Microphone
Facebook, over the past few months, has been in muddy waters when it comes to user data privacy. Ever since the Cambridge Analytica controversy broke out, Facebook has been in the middle of a heated debate surrounding the internet and how brands use data of users. Since then, Facebook has come out and defended its stance while claiming that it doesn’t spy on its users. While that might be true for now, the future might be different.
A new patent owned by Facebook has been discovered by Metro. The patent essentially details technology that triggers the microphone of a smartphone to start recording ambient audio. Some form of data based on that recording is then sent back to the company. This sure sounds creepy and straight out of a Black Mirror episode.
The notion of Facebook spying on its users is not new. There have been theories doing rounds on the internet that claim Facebook already records ambient audio. Many people claim that they have deleted the Facebook and Messenger apps from their smartphones after coming across targeted ads for products they had recently discussed on calls. With this patent, Facebook is just proving these theories right.
The patent application was published on 14th June and details how Facebook plans on remotely triggering the microphone of smartphones. According to the patent, Facebook would embed high-pitched audio signals in “broadcast content” that would be inaudible to humans. While the human ears won’t be able to discern it, a client device as a smartphone would be able to hear it. This signal would essentially instruct the phone to start recording ambient audio and send “ambient audio fingerprint” back to Facebook for analysis.
While this patent sounds a lot like something Facebook, especially after recent events, the company doesn’t intend on ever implying it. In fact, Facebook applied for this patent to protect users from other companies. At least that is what Facebook VP and Deputy General Counsel Allen Lo told Mashable:
It is common practice to file patents to prevent aggression from other companies. Because of this, patents tend to focus on future-looking technology that is often speculative in nature and could be commercialized by other companies.
Surely, Facebook would never use methods to gain insights into its users’ habits to earn money from advertisers.