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Optional Facebook app upgrade captures audio from smartphone microphone

A new optional Facebook app feature that would give the social media giant access to audio from smartphone microphones is raising privacy concerns.

In a release last week, Facebook said the user-optional feature could capture and identify audio, using the phone’s microphone. Facebook would then attempt to identify the song being listened to or the show being watched and incorporate it into a status update.

The application would have to first be activated by tapping an icon. It does not run automatically.

Facebook said no sound is stored, but admitted to International Business Times (IBT) that it plans to archive the data as code.

“If the feature finds a match, you can then choose to add the song, TV show or movie to your post,” the Facebook release states.

Facebook says the upgrade will be available in the coming weeks on both its Android and iOS apps in the U.S.

It is not available in Canada.

Dr. Ilka Gleibs from the London School of Economics told IBT that consumers should be worried because they have no control over what happens to the data.

News that Facebook could access audio from your phone led to a strong reaction on Twitter.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Barton Gellman, who has extensively covered Edward Snowden and the National Security Agency, tweeted that he was deleting his Facebook app in response to the upgrade.

Also last week, Facebook announced that it was increasing privacy controls for new users — assuring that posts are automatically set only to be visible to friends.