Growing Backlash to Facebook’s Ambient Sound Recording Feature

Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

Seems not everybody is happy with Facebook’s gift of a built-in ambient sound recorder.

An Australian news site reports that “the feature has sparked an online backlash, with users mobilising [sic] in an effort to get the social media giant to kill off the development.” The petition has over half a million signatures as of press time.

“Facebook just announced a new feature to its app, which will let it listen to our conversations and surroundings through our own phones’ microphone. Talk about a Big Brother move,” the petition reads.

In the “coming weeks,” the social media behemoth will roll out a service that, according to an announcement on its blog, will give users:

the option to use your phone’s microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.

That means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing.

Certainly, as the company claims, that is a handy little tool for recording the sounds entering into a smartphone’s microphone with nearly no human interaction required.

There is something disturbing in the potential uses of this option, however. The frightening application of the app is, accidentally it seems, explained in a Huffington Post article promoting the technology: “Facebook Can Now Listen To Everything You Listen To.”

It seems that’s true, and there’s the rub.

For a little context, consider the information in this story published two years ago in The New American regarding a liberty-jarring decision handed down by the notorious Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

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