Stop Facebook From Using Smartphone Microphones to Spy on us

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Target: Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, Inc.

Goal: Convince Facebook to abandon its plan to listen in on consumers via smartphone microphones

Facebook recently announced that the newest upgrade to its smartphone app will include a feature that will allow the tech company to listen in to sounds in the smartphone’s proximity via the built-in microphone. The purported purpose of this feature is to identify the music being listened to or the television programming being watched and integrate this information into voluntary status updates. However, this technology would also allow the company to potentially listen in on private conversations and store that information indefinitely.

Although Facebook spokespeople have given assurances that the feature would never be used this way, the company has already been caught lying about both its methods of data collection and its involvement in government surveillance. It claims that what the app hears will get turned into data before it is stored, and that it will always be anonymized and aggregated, but no indication has been given that such data will not be sold to third parties or made available to government agencies. Since Facebook has cooperated with the National Security Agency (NSA) electronic data surveillance program in the past, there is real concern that this new collection method will lead to further violations of privacy.

Facebook has also stressed that the new feature will be completely optional, but it has in the past switched optional settings to automatic ones without prior notification. The ability to listen to us through our phones without our knowledge is a gross invasion of privacy in an age when the right to privacy is becoming more restricted everyday.

Tell Facebook that this new feature has too much potential to be used irresponsibly and is an unwelcome incursion into our private lives. Urge the company to abandon its plans to spy on consumers via the microphones on their mobile devices.


Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

The new listen feature that you plan to roll out with your company’s smartphone app is an unwelcome and highly suspicious invasion of our privacy. The potential for abuse is high enough to outweigh any possible conveniences that might be gleaned from such a feature. As consumers our ability to trust corporations with our private data has already been strained by recent NSA revelations, and we are not willing to give you the benefit of the doubt that such a feature will not quietly become automatic or that the data will not be shared without our knowledge.

Trust must be earned, and listening in on our private lives is not a way to do that. If you want us to share our data you must first prove that such a privilege will not be abused. Please abandon your plan to release software that enables you to listen to us through our phones’ microphones.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Kvarki1 via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. Just a couple of weeks ago I noticed that now Facebook asks you to fill in your address. What?! I can’t believe they can be so insolent! The very fact that they dare ask about it is really disturbing. Are we living in the world of 1984?

    • Yes. Fascism’s design originated with the patriot act and its drastically getting worse and will continue…
      There is no democracy- this is capitalistic fascism – and the constitution is no longer in effect.. You have no rights…

    • Sandy Clements says:

      Yes we are. Never forget it. On the other hand, I am under no obligation to give them my address and have not been asked for it yet.

  2. Constantine Vlahos says:

    A psychopaths work is never done. Poor things, they must be exhausted.

  3. Sandy Clements says:

    Facebook keeps sinking to new levels of client abuse. However, its clients don’t pay for the product. The developers are paid from ads.

    This phone thing is not even a thinly veiled attempt to grab our data and Zuckerman would sell his granny out. On the other hand, I don’t have to give them my smart phone number if I ever go brain dead and buy one. If you don’t want them to listen in, don’t down load the app that lets them and don’t play on line with the phone if you do download it. Use a tablet or PC or lap top where you do not have to put your always open phone.

    I won’t sign this petition because I believe Facebook is within their rights to do anything to people who do not pay for the application. It is not YOUR Facebook but it is your brain thinking you have to buy into this crap.

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