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Facebook wants to 'listen' to your music and TV (bbc.co.uk)
26 points by hugorodgerbrown on May 22, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

I think I read about this in a book once...

"The iPhone received and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the helpful sign suggested, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being checked-in on social media any given moment. How often, or on what system, the service provider plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they included everybody all the time. But at any rate they could connect you whenever they wanted to. You had to live -- did live, from habit that became instinct -- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized."

It is fairly ironic that you use iPhone in your example considering that with side loading and permission over reach any talented hacker can access an Android phone to the level you describe while you would almost have to be a nation state to pull it off on a non-jailbroken iPhone.

with side loading and permission over reach

a non-jailbroken iPhone

You don't think it's a little unfair to compare a sideloaded (thus, compromised) Android phone with a non-compromised, non-jailbroken iPhone?

Jailbroken and sideloaded APKs do not equate to "compromised".

They do not equate to it, but they can cause it. In the example the OP was giving the phone would have been compromised by a side-loaded app. Quite possible.

Side-loading and non-jailbroken are the defaults. Google is warning everyone to only download from the Play Store but few pay attention and everyone wants something for free.

Every android phone I've owned has required me to check a box hidden in the settings before I could install from outwith the Play store. My current phone gives me an additional pop-up warning that this is a security risk which I have to agree to before it will enable side-loading.

Ultimately you can't completely protect users from their own stupidity. You have to make the security vs usability tradeoff somewhere. I appreciate that my phone allows me to manually install applications - it is in fact one of the reasons I chose it.

Yes because clearly no major company would want to spy on you through its official app...

Then you may have missed a break in the third quarter of the telecast of Super Bowl XVIII by CBS. Advertising Age placed it on the top of its list of 50 greatest commercials.

Oh, you mean scrobbling? That thing last.fm has done forever? And it only activates when you go into the status update UI?

Sad that there's not a single, not even one positive mention of this feature here. I'm starting to think this whole privacy thing has turned a lot of you into luddites. I'm serious. The highest rated fucking comment is a post that takes a line from 1984 and replaces "telescreen" with "iphone". Yes, very clever and completely relevant.

I remember a time when this would have generated discussion on how cool it is or what technology they're using to accomplish it, but instead, it's PRIVACY PRIVACY PRIVACY (even when it's an irrelevant concern, such as this) - the same reaction I'd expect had this been posted to 4chan /g/.

I remember a time when this would have generated discussion on how cool it is or what technology they're using to accomplish it, but instead, it's PRIVACY PRIVACY PRIVACY

I had song identification on a candybar phone something like 6+ years ago. Why should I say the feature are cool and how the tech interesting? It's not anymore. I had those conversations years ago. Is the fact it got added to facebook's interface even slightly interesting? There is a very narrow window of posts where I care to tell people I was watching The Simpsons, but am not going to type anything about The Simpsons in the post. It's like location data, who cares where I am? Nobody but facebook, unless I'm traveling and say something about the travel, in which case it also doesn't matter the post is geotagged.

So should we sit around and coo about how great it is that a social network I barely use anymore integrated known tech I don't care to receive from them? Is that how you responded when facebook announced that they would provide email service? No, because it's a boring solved problem from a boring company just trying to gather more data on users. Google already did it, and better. Maybe there is an interesting article to be found somewhere in there about implementation or scaling it, that's it.

Of course the conversation is on privacy because the tech savvy are starting to realize just how much they've lost. And it doesn't sit well that it's been stolen in ways hidden from them and/or they been have been told to sit down, and accept. So I find it entirely expected that people are jumpy around another encroachment, even for something benign. Time and time again someone spills the beans on a benign use case that got leveraged for access. Sure you may find it poorly articulated, off target or needlessly reactionary. It doesn't mean there isn't an important underlying point.

I remember a time when this would have generated discussion on how cool it is or what technology they're using to accomplish it

Right, but as you yourself stated in your first paragraph, this isn't new. This kind of tech has been available for TV shows via Shazam for some time. Inevitably conversation will turn to privacy because that's the only new thing here.

The tech is awesome. I just don't trust Facebook, that's all. And it's not the same as scrobbling because it will match TV shows or music that other people around you are playing.

Also, I don't "scrobble" because I was never comfortable sharing that data.

Oh, and this has nothing to do with Facebook's atrocious behavior in all things privacy?

Unless your fear is that Facebook wants to record your conversations on the sly, then yes, that is a completely insane thing to be worried about, and I'd ask for proof.

Facebook doing what Shazam does doesn't somehow make it more skeevy.

> Unless your fear is that Facebook wants to record your conversations on the sly

Why wouldn't they do that? They could get more valuable marketing data. If they run voice recognition software, they can automatically pick out brand names, or listen in if you're talking about upcoming purchases. Maybe they overhear you having a fight with your spouse, so they can position ads for divorce attorneys when you log in to Facebook.

> Facebook doing what Shazam does doesn't somehow make it more skeevy.

Yes, it does, because Facebook is inherently a way skeevier company than Shazam. All you have to do is look at their history to date to see that.

Or, you know, just track everything you do by listening, building up ever more details on you.

>> Facebook doing what Shazam does doesn't somehow make it more skeevy.

Of course it does.

I'm sure Shazam and SoundHound just throw away all that useful metadata too...

I'm sure they don't.

On the other hand they are not in a position to combine it with a truckload of your (partially at least) most intimate data, sucked up with all their other data gathering ventures.

For what it's worth: I'm putting my money where my mouth is and "deleted" my Facebook account years ago.

Kind of OT but take a look at this [0]. They've actually just announced good privacy changes.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7783609

I agree. I'm not a Facebook user, so I probably won't run into this feature myself, but it sounds really impressive to me.

If I read it right, it can detect the TV show down to episode? I'm guessing it functions just like Shazam style music detection, but I still find the idea of it incredibly cool.

last.fm doesn't scrobble your life, it only hooks into your music player not your microphone and camera.

It amazes me that people are so willing to give these "services" so much access to their lives. It creeped me out when facebook used to ask me what I thought about a place I had been to. This is a whole new level of creepy, why don't people care?

It's not really a new level. People have been doing it with Last.fm since before Facebook existed.

Last.fm isn't so bad though because they do not also have a massive collection of photos of you, your social graph, your location, your phone number, etc...

"Can be turned off at any time" means "will never be turned off by 99.99% of our users".

"...it starts currently as opt-in". Not a massive fan of that "currently".

I don't own a smartphone and deleted my FB account years ago, but this still makes me squirm.

I propose "surveillance creep" as a label for the concern. Cf. "feature creep."

Situational awareness and semi-passive alternative inputs is being added to more and more devices. The always waiting your command "Ok Google" thing that Android phones and "Ok Glass" that Google Glass do comes to mind. Same for the XBOX One, only in that case it's also got a camera aimed at your livingroom. The Nest knows when there are people present. And now Facebook can listen to your surroundings while you post a status update. Any others I'm not thinking of?

Edit: Chrome now lets you use "Ok Google" as well.


I wish "Ok Google" was always waiting - Instead you have to initiate it.

It's pretty awesome when you've dirty hands and can't touch the phone, but you need to turn it on, and unlock it first.

I have a Moto X, it does have touchless always-on voice control: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOr8Wxcc0Gs (I don't have it enabled, though)

Facebook wants to listen to your brainwaves but are thwarted by reality. So far.

Beside the privacy concerns, it's sad that most people feel the need to share every little detail of their life with everyone, 24/7. What's the point?

Branding (signalling). Same reason people post pictures of their desserts with the restaurant's name, announce party affiliation, and tell you about a band you have never heard.

For some reason, many people form an identity from what they consume.

Why talk to anyone unless you think you can get something from them?

I'm sure we could just ask the NSA to identify all that fluff for us. And while they're at it, they could do our backups, too.

I'm about ready to ditch my phone and swap it for a Morse key.

So what happens when the MPAA buys access to the data and cross references everybody that is watching Game of Thrones with the HBO subscriber list?

Seems like this thread is full of people typing while wearing tinfoil hats.

They have added a feature which works the same way Shazam et al do. You want to share what you're listening to? Press a button, the mic gets activated, and Facebook ID's the song for you to save you typing it out and searching yourself.

They are not listening to you all the time, even when you're in the Facebook app.

Shazam doesn't try to run itself passively and report back to HQ when I don't need it to run.

Shazam also isn't the same level of data mining/profiling.

This app requires the following permissions: read you thoughts.

Remember those scripts that changed your instant messenger status when you started listening to a song? Or posted in IRC about it?

Automated narcissism doesn't exactly make for good conversation. People will get bored of it after a day or two.

this will be a fantastic data collection tool to allow advertisers to target user's tastes that they don't "like" on fb.

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