I was out at the pub the other night and I overheard a friend of mine telling someone about how Facebook is spying on us whenever we post a status update. They said that whenever you post, Facebook will engage your microphone and record everything you are saying so Facebook can use it for their takedown of the earth.
Turns out, said friend isn’t too far from the truth. Facebook is rolling out a new feature that does involve your phone’s microphone every time you make a status update. However, it’s not as sinister (unless you want to start talking in conspiracy, then it sounds quite sinister) as it sounds. Facebook's move comes as social networks are competing to become the primary second screen for discussions of shows and music.
The idea is for users to share their entertainment experiences directly on Facebook via their moblile devices, going further than just checking in or posting a status update. The “audio identifier” uses your gadget’s microphone to listen in on content that is playing in the background – whether it’s music on a radio, sound from a television show or a movie. If it can recoginise and match the audio, the user can choose to share it with their friends on Facebook.
When users share a song, their friends will be able to preview a 30-second snippet. In the case of TV shows, posts will include information about the season and episode being watched so as to encourage conversation among other users who are watching.
The feature is optional (for now, you know Facebook), and users will have to turn it on to enable it. The sound is not stored, so it won't be possible to use the feature to record ambient audio. If users do decide to enable the feature, the posts will be like any others on Facebook, where users can choose who sees them and who doesn't.
Android and iOS users in the US can expect to see the feature roll out over the coming weeks. It’s not going to be rolled out in New Zealand just yet, so you don’t have to worry about accidentally posting that Nickelback song to all your friends on Facebook.