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So Facebook patents system that can use your phone’s mic to monitor TV habits. WHAT? What’s your audio fingerprint? WHAT? 

“It is common practice to file patents to prevent aggression from other companies. Because of this, patents tend to focus on future-looking technology that is often speculative in nature and could be commercialised by other companies,” said Facebook’s head of intellectual property, Allen Lo, in a statement.

The idea that Facebook already listens to people’s conversations and uses that information to deliver targeted advertising has been a popular conspiracy theory for years.

System would allow Facebook to identify what adults and children are watching based on ambient noise

Facebook has patented a system that can remotely activate the microphone on someone’s phone using inaudible signals broadcast via a television.

The patent application describes a system where an audio fingerprint embedded in TV shows or ads, inaudible to human ears, would trigger the phone, tablet or long-rumoured smart speaker to turn on the microphone and start recording “ambient audio of the content item”. The recording could then be matched to a database of content to allow Facebook to identify what the individual was watching – like Shazam for TV, but without the individual choosing to activate the system.

Diagrams accompanying the patent highlight how the technology would know which adult or child within a household was watching a particular broadcast.

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