If you thought that sinister happenings were a thing of the past now at Facebook with the whole Cambridge Analytica debacle behind them, you may want to think again, especially as the company now has a published application for a shiny new patent that would allow them to both monitor and record “ambient audio” through the mobile phones of Facebook users.
According to Metro, if approved, this new patent would make it perfectly legal for Facebook to hide “a non-human hearable digital sound” in any content they choose, including television ads.
While you technically won’t be able to hear this sound when it begins, you can rest assured that your mobile phone will hear and understand the strange and “machine recognizable” sounds, after which it will understand that it needs to begin recording then.
It is at this point that all of the ambient sounds you normally hear around you wherever you may be, from home to your local coffee shop, will start being recorded by Facebook, with the company describing the sounds that will be picked up as “distinct and subtle sounds of a particular location created by the environment of the location, such as machinery noise, the sound of distant human movement and speech, creaks from thermal contraction, and air conditioning and plumbing noises in a household.”
The purpose of this new technology is so that advertisers can actively monitor your viewing habits, something made much easier if they can spy on you with audio. The official name of the patent is known as “Broadcast content view analysis based on ambient audio recording.”
While Facebook maintain that the goal of this patent is strictly to find out which ads you fancy the most and how much of an audience a particular advertiser has, Facebook and advertisers will be able to hear each and every time you jump up off the sofa and leave the room when an ad pops up and the signal and sounds grow dim. They will also be able to tell when you hit the mute button on your remote.
Facebook vice-president Allen Lo has maintained in the past that merely applying for a patent doesn’t necessarily indicate what they will be used for in the future, or even if they will be used, as the Daily Mail report.
“Most of the technology outlined in these patents has not been included in any of our products, and never will be.”
On the other hand, it does indicate a company’s intentions, according to New York University law professor Jason Schultz.
“A patent portfolio is a map of how a company thinks about where its technology is going.”
The patent that would allow Facebook to put secret digital messages in advertisements and use them to record audio through your mobile phone has not been approved yet.