back to article Facebook: 'We don't listen'

Facebook thinks people mistakenly believe it is listening to them through their devices' microphones. The ad-farm posted a brief statement last week insisting it's not spying on users – even though it quite clearly has the capability to do so. Rather, the company says, if a user (for example) of the Facebook app gives it …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As much as i would love to believe you, i dont.

    If you aint doing it now, we ALL know you soon will be.

    Thats much ad revenue is too big a windfall for you to lose out on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If you aint doing it now, we ALL know you soon will be."

      Exactly 'Overton Window'... Announce now anyway (even in denial)...

      Then later proceed away, so the outrage, sunrise and reaction isn't as great...

  2. Only me!

    Loads of other apps too

    There are loads of other apps that ask for that permision......maybe there should be a OS level icon that pops up when an app uses the mike or cam. Otherwise we will never know.

    1. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: Loads of other apps too

      > maybe there should be a OS level icon

      And then something will bypass that, and so the game continues

    2. jzl

      Re: Loads of other apps too

      "maybe there should be a OS level icon that pops up when an app uses the mike or cam"

      On iOS, there already is.

    3. Fibbles

      Re: Loads of other apps too

      Android now contains fine grained permission controls. If an app requests a bunch of permissions and you think one is unnecessary then simply deny it. It's no longer all or nothing.

  3. jake Silver badge


    I see no need for facebook to begin with.

    1. jzl

      Re: Whatever.

      "I see no need for facebook to begin with."

      My God! You're right!

      If only Zuckerberg had asked you for advice before wasting his money on such a harebrained startup idea.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "I see no need for facebook to begin with."

        Well I see a great need for a Facebook alternative... Preferably one that's EU based / comes under EU data laws, but not managed by pathetic Irish-DPC. Pity Diaspora never delivered, WTF happened to that project?

  4. David Gosnell

    Permission justification

    I would love to see permissions in apps etc justified in descriptions more frequently. Some do it, but by no means all. Most are probably innocuous, and although a description doesn't prove a thing, it's a step in the right direction before full code analysis is feasible. In the meantime it means idiots will still accuse apps of wrongdoing - e.g. the fool reviewer who thought a completely reasonably-permissioned (not even any ads) flashlight app was taking photos on the sly, rather than because, duh, the LED is part of the camera module. On the other hand, suspicion is not surprising given the number of apps demanding e.g. location in order to do something completely unconnected.

  5. Graham Marsden

    Permissions should be granular...

    ... and allowed on a case-by-case (or situation-by-situation) basis rather than a blanket "If you want to use this app you have to let it have access to this list whether you think it needs it or not..."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Permissions should be granular...

      That I understand, permissions are already granular for iOS and recent versions of Android.

      However, I don't think they handle short-term case-by-case permissions, like "you can use the microphone just for shooting this video right now, and you lose the permission immediately after". Which means that any QR code app is technically allowed to take a picture at any time whenever they want.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Can spin this into paranoia for one more reason to block it for our call centre. (the sales director doesn't see the point. The IT director kowtows to him.)

  7. Buzzword

    Much pain, little gain

    Why would Facebook bother? They already have a rich and extensive dataset gifted by their users; why would they risk stealing even more data, and data which is of low value at that?

  8. ratfox Silver badge


    Not that Facebook is the only one to do this but:

    We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission

    Which most users accept without blinking (and not long ago couldn't even refuse if they wanted to use the app at all).

    and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.

    Note how these explanations, here and in T&C's, always say "This might include…"; they never contain an exhaustive list. Because that would mean they cannot add anything in the future without making an announcement about changing their T&C's, which they want to avoid because it just attracts attention to the matter, and gets them in trouble with regulators.

    So they leave all options open. They say what they might do, they give examples, but they never say "we will not do this", because that's painting themselves in a corner.

    For the record, I don't even think that Facebook is really listening. I'm just pointing out that their statement is completely vacuous, out of abundance of care.

  9. theOtherJT

    "We don't listen"

    Something that's been apparent to all of us bitching about them constantly messing around with the chat function for all these years.

    Alphabetical order, facebook. That's all. Alphabetical order.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "We don't listen"

      Zuck: To our users 'Dumb F@cks'....

  10. tin 2

    OT I know but...

    ...sorta along the line of app permissions?

    When are Apple and Google going to ban their app for sending notifications which require a different app to read? WHEN!? That should make them behave a bit better? Too big to be told off I think.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm skeptical

    Me and my brother were sitting in the garden and he was talking about a very random type of part to do with his car that he needed. His Android phone was sat on the table. I asked him if he'd googled to try and find this part online and he said he hadn't yet, but he would look later. We had our lunch then he checked his phone and low and behold he magically had an advert for exactly what he was after. The odds of it being a coincidence were extremely high and neither of us could believe it. Maybe it was a huge coincidence maybe he had googled it and they somehow got a cookie with the info. Safe to say he no longer has the facebook app installed....

  12. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Queue up the "Outer Limits" theme for that one... Although, this isn't the first one that's posted on El Reg.

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