Facebook updates bordering on invasion of privacy

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Facebook has recently come under fire with the announcement of yet another in a string of updates for its mobile application. The update holds the ability to pick up sounds through your smartphone’s microphone, which according to critics borders on invasion of privacy.

The feature is designed to pick up the background sounds of music, movies and TV shows, making it easier and less time consuming to create Facebook status updates. For example, if you have the feature enabled and post a status update with a song playing in the background, the Facebook application will use your smartphone’s microphone to identify the song and artist to add to your post.  While this is its intended purpose, the concern is that the function could be abused and used inappropriately to listen to people’s private conversations.

Facebook has come out quickly to defend the update, pointing out that the feature will be completely optional and without having it turned on, it won’t work. Additionally, any sounds picked up by the application will not be stored on any system and the only record will be in the person’s status updates. Naturally, critics aren’t convinced with this response and it begs the question, is this going too far?

With massive global security shocks, such as Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing on the NSA, is there any wonder there is a public outcry on such a feature for the most popular social network in the world? Imagine potentially having access to the sounds and conversations of more than one billion people through a simple mobile update.

While it is still uncertain how it will unfold, it looks as though Facebook won’t change its plans any time soon, judging by the Q&A it has released in the above linked article. Needless to say, it is something all users of the network need to be aware of, especially if the feature automatically activates next update.


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