Remember all the reports about Facebook users complaining that the social media giant may be using their smartphone to record and spy on their conversations. It might not have been a reality at the time, but it looks like Facebook is planning to make an app using the same idea. According to a patent application that was published on June 14, Facebook wants to use your smartphone to record the audio to listen to secret messages hidden in television advertisements. The patent with the title “Broadcast content view analysis based on ambient audio recording” details how the company is working on a system that will tell your smartphone to start the audio recording to record the “ambient audio”.
Ambient audio here really means all the audio that is around your smartphone including your private conversations. However, the company plans to use this along with “non-human hearable digital sound” that play in advertisements and other content on television. The reason these sounds will be secret and “non-human hearable” is because they will be beyond the frequency that is audible to us. Other beings like your dog may be able to hear this audio depending on how high the frequency will be.
According to Metro UK, this digital sound is likely to be a “set of Morse code-style” message to your smartphone, and the Facebook app on your smartphone. The message will trigger the smartphone to start recording ambient sound. The patent specifies that the app is meant to record the sound from the “broadcasting device”, likely the television so that Facebook can monitor what advertisements its users what on their televisions.
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The report points out that monitoring the advertisements on the televisions of users will allow Facebook to tweak, and serve relevant and more appealing advertisements on their smartphones. This will also allow Facebook and advertising companies to accurately see the exact engagement of the advertisements that the companies served on the television as the smartphone will also record the sound of the advertisement that included the inaudible audio.
The recorded sound will inform advertisers to check if users actually sat through the advertisement or they switched to some other content or advertisement. A muffled or distant audio will also indicate that the user walked off during the advertisement while a strong and lout audio recording will tell the advertiser that the user sat or was nearby the television and paid attention.
The patent has not indicated any intention of recording private and intimate conversations, but this patent is enough to indicate the level of insight that Facebook wants to achieve about what we want and what we don’t.