Facebook’s Big Blue Eyes

Of course Facebook won’t abuse the new feature on the app it will be launching soon. After all, Facebook wants what is best for people; all it wishes to do is to build one big global network of friends. But it is definitely convenient, if all of these global friends allow you to monitor their smart phones.

According to Facebook, the new function has been invented as an easy way to supply status updates with extra information. By listening in, Facebook is able to detect what it is you are listening to or what you are watching. It is kind of a GPS tagging but designed for music, films and series. The feature is only activated if permission is given by the user, the social network site stresses.

This week 550,000 people were quick to sign a petition against this new feature, arguing that it invades their privacy. Facebook, which already has a fishy smell where privacy is concerned, responded immediately: The feature is truly only activated with the user’s permission and the data is not stored. Or no, actually, the data is stored, but is not linked to profiles and only anonymously archived in a database. Perhaps a bit less sensitive with regard to privacy-related technicalities, but a gold mine all the same, because this kind of information is worth a lot of money to advertisers. No, Facebook is not interested in listening in on conversations, the company stated.

Strategic Mastermind?

Is launching this new feature an act of courage, stupidity or megalomania? After it came out that Facebook had received millions to pass on information to the National Security Agency, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg initially denied, you really do have to be self-assured if you are to launch a feature that allows a cellphone to be tapped.

“Only” 550,000 people signed the petition. This is a relatively small number, considering that Facebook has over a billion users. This, however, can be explained by the fact that the new feature will initially only be available in the United States. Could it be, then, that all of the commotion is merely a storm in a teacup, or is it part of a well thought-through strategy?

It appears that the strategy behind this privacy-sensitive feature is for it to first be launched on a small scale and then to gradually be extended to the rest of the world. It would not be the first time that a new feature suddenly becomes available with a general update which has not been requested. It also would not be a first if, all of a sudden, there were new terms of service which users agree to without noticing. Besides its nice blue eyes, Facebook also has a great strategic mind.

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