Several reports have suggested that Facebook has patented technology to turn on your phone’s microphone when it “hears” a sound inaudible to humans from your television.
Citing the patent, the reports stated that Facebook was going to use the technology to gather data on which advertisements you’re exposed to and how you react to them.
However, The Verge reported that the presumption the patent refers to Facebook’s smartphone application is wrong.
The patent does not specifically mention a phone or smartphone, but describes a system that receives a user identifier and an audio fingerprint, matches the audio fingerprint to content, and checks how many times the content has been played.
According to The Verge, the claims may be read to mean that Facebook plans to trigger your smartphone’s microphone, but it may have been written with a smart speaker in mind.
Facebook has stated it did not apply for the patent with the intention of implementing the technology.
Allen Lo, the deputy general counsel for Facebook, told The Verge they applied for the patent defensively “to prevent aggression from other companies”.
The technology in the patent has not been included in any Facebook products and never will be, said Lo.