Facebook launches new music-, TV-sharing feature

Facebook’s taking another step toward helping you share whatever you are doing with all your friends.

The giant social network on Wednesday unveiled a new feature called “music and TV identification” that, if you allow it, will use your Apple or Android smartphone’s microphone to detect and identify the song you are listening to, or a TV show you are watching, and generate a post that shares that information with others.

We know what you’re thinking: Yes, this is kind of like Shazam and other music recognition apps that you can use when you hear a song on TV or in a coffee shop and want to know the name and the artist responsible for it. And yes, the new feature raises some questions about whether the company is listening in on conversations or doing other potentially unsettling things.

To the latter, Facebook says the answer is no:  The feature isn’t capable of identifying conversations or other background noise. And no, it’s not recording or storing what you are listening to.

Instead, the idea is to generate more online conversations and sharing with friends who might want to check out what you are watching or listening to. It’s part of Facebook’s broader effort to keep users engaged and make sure they turn to Facebook, and not Twitter or some other rival service, to talk about what they are doing.

Facebook’s also stressing that the feature is optional and will come with controls that let users decide when to turn it on and with whom they want to share a post. That’s part of the company’s expanding efforts in promoting privacy features to reassure its users.

But it does seem like the feature could be used to deliver more targeted advertising – such as an ad for a new recording by the artist whose song you just heard. That’s not going to happen right away, but a Facebook manager Aryeh Selekman told the TechCrunch blog “it’s definitely something we’ve thought about and will potentially do in the future.”

(Screen image from Facebook)

Brandon Bailey Brandon Bailey (341 Posts)

Brandon Bailey covers Google, Facebook and Yahoo for the San Jose Mercury News, reporting on the business and culture of the Internet.