Facebook's New Patent Can Turn On Your Microphone And Secretly Record You
You'd think that after the whole Cambridge Analytica thing and the general air of grovelling apology which Facebook has been forced to adopt since, Facebook would generally avoid doing anything too dystopian. Just until the heat died down, you know?
Well, they've not. According to a patent filed in December 2016 and published on 14 June, Facebook has designs on remotely turning on your phone's microphone using hidden signals in TV adverts so they can target ads at you more accurately.
The patent, which is titled "broadcast content view analysis based on ambient audio recording", sounds quite innocuous. However, it entails software which automatically turns on when it hears "a non-human hearable digital sound" which is "machine recognizable" and is embedded in a Facebook advert.
In layman's terms: when the device—probably your phone—hears a high-pitched sound too high for human ears to hear in the background of a Facebook advert on TV or on your computer it'll secretly start recording whatever's going on around it and sending the data to Facebook.
The idea is to capture how different users engage with different ads so that ads an be targeted at them more effectively, so, even more creepily, it'll "identify the corresponding individual and content item." Facebook will know it's you every time it looks at the data. Creepy.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk.
* Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.