In June 2018, Facebook filed a patent that allows a smartphone microphone to be triggered by ambient sounds and start recording any background audio. If the patent is approved, the social media company will be able to use the technology to record any background audio through your smartphone and send it back for analysis at the company.
Facebook plans on activating microphones by using high-pitched audio in ads or any form of broadcast content which cannot be detected by the human ear, but it is possible for a smartphone to discern it. The ambient audio data is then recorded to deliver customized ads to Facebook users. With online privacy being a hot topic at the moment, the patent is questionable, and many news publications have raised eyebrows at the move.
Facebook did not reveal any intention to make use of such technology in the past, and when the company was asked to comment about the patent, they replied the company has no intention of using the technology. It does raise questions about why the social media company filed the patent if they do not plan on using it.
Allen Lo, the Facebook VP, and Deputy General Counsel Allen Lo revealed that the company seeks to file such patents to prevent any aggression from other competing companies. It prevents the competition from commercializing ideas that Facebook comes up with. However, with the recent scandals surrounding Facebook and the company’s willingness to force people into enabling anti-privacy features on their apps and services, the statement sounds far from believable.