Facebook has figured out another way to gather even more information about their users that also makes it easier to stalk people. On Wednesday, the social media network announced plans for a new feature that uses your phone’s microphone to recognize the show or music you’re listening to at that moment, and then post it as a status update. Friends can then listen to a preview clip of the song or see the exact season and episode of the TV you're watching.
The new feature will be introduced in "the coming weeks."
Facebook said that this is an opt-in feature and that you can turn it off any time. If you choose to use the new feature, an audio icon will appear on the screen and the microphone will identify the song that is playing, much the same way that the app Shazam works to recognize music.
This opt-in feature is important, says Chris Conley, a policy attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. "Since its an opt-in feature, Facebook is not collecting information unless you actually post it," Conley told VICE News.
'Instead of saying “I’m feeling lonely” it will reveal that you’re watching Say Yes to the Dress at 10 PM on a Friday night.'
The name of the song or the show will then appear in your status bar in the same way that the “I’m feeling ______” feature works now.
Only instead of saying “I’m feeling lonely” it will reveal that you’re watching Say Yes to the Dress at 10 PM on a Friday night.
Facebook explained the reasoning behind the new feature as a way to promote conversations about and discover new music, movies, and television that your friends are listening to. It said people shared more than 5 billion status updates last year about their current activities and feelings, and that this app seeks to make that conversation even easier. Not that it was all that difficult to do before.
Although touted as an innovative new way to share media preferences, others have pointed out the privacy concerns with this new feature and its potential to be used as yet another way for Facebook to collect data on its 1.2 billion users for advertisers.
Facebook’s current advertising model is based on targeting specific ads for users based on the information that is made public on their profile. Although this new music feature is not specially designed for advertising purposes, it could make it even easier for advertisers to target specific users based on their music, television, or movie preferences.
"The tradeoff is that there is data that can be valuable both for the company in terms of attracting advertisers and also to the user to know what their friends are listening to," said Conley. "This tradeoff just needs to be made clear to the user so they are aware of what they are sharing and what is being made public."
In other words, if you watch a lot of The Bachelorette don’t be surprised if you start seeing ads for Match.com appear on your Facebook.
Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter: @obecker928
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