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Facebook’s Latest Privacy Challenge

FB privacy

Described as a “Big Brother move”, Facebook’s new eavesdropping feature has reached an entirely new level of creepy. The opt-in feature turns on your smartphone’s microphone and picks up on surrounding noises like music, TV or even conversations. The mobile app then posts a status update like “Watching Orange is the New Black” or “Listening to Iggy Azalea”.

Facebook spokesperson Momo Zhou spoke to Kashmir Hill about the feature in a recent article on Forbes. Zhou insists that Facebook has no interest in private conversations and audio recordings will not be saved. “We’re not recording audio or sound and sending it to Facebook or its servers,” Zhou says. “We turn the audio it hears into a code — code that is not reversible into audio — and then we match it against a database of code.”

Kashmir Hill shares some interesting thoughts about the new feature, focusing specifically on why Facebook continues to push the limits of privacy invasion “in these days of Snowden surveillance revelations”. Hill believes Facebook is encouraging users to constantly share stream-of-consciousness type information. Facebook, Hill concludes, “wants to displace Twitter as the go-to place for real-time commenting on sporting events, awards shows, and other communal television watching”.

The feature has sparked a wave of outrage among Facebook users and has resulted in a petition for its removal. The petition currently has over 585,000 signatures.

In a world of catfishing, government surveillance, stalking and random Facebook “acquaintances”, privacy is a huge concern. Understanding and maintaining privacy settings is an important aspect of protecting yourself against privacy invasion.