Facebook had recently filed a patent for controversial software that turns on the microphones of smartphones in order to record ambient noise. This could allow the social networking giant to spy on anyone using a smartphone with the software installed in it. However, the company has stated that it won’t be using it in any of its products, to address concerns over the patent filed.
Facebook has been under intense scrutiny from its users as well as the media in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw Facebook users’ data allegedly being used for political maneuvering. This incident prompted legislators to try and regulate how Facebook and other internet companies use data gleaned from customers. California governor Jerry Brown signed a law this past week to grant users some degree of power over the usage of their information.
The new software for “listening in” is designed with a view to know what users view on their devices, so that advertising companies may know the size of a market for certain products and services. Such an approach would also be helpful for companies to discern what content is more likely to appeal to which user. While the technology will definitely give companies a decisive edge over conventional marketing strategies, it also has the potential to invade privacy on an unprecedented scale.