PC Doctor October 24, 2014

Have your computer questions answered here! Search the PC Doctor archive or submit a question of your own at info@athollibrary.org

Dear PC Doc,

Recently my co-worker told me she decided to stop using the Facebook App on her smart phone.  She was very concerned with the most recent update (August 19) and the things that Facebook wanted her permission to access.  Specifically the camera and microphone.  It gave me pause because why on earth does Facebook need my microphone!?  It also made me wonder, since my phone is set to do automatic updates, does that mean I give them permission to whatever the changes each update includes?  Kind of scary!  I tried to read about the update through my FB App, but couldn't really make sense of it.  Can you help me to understand what information they want to access and why, and the difference between automatic and manual updates.

       Thanks! Robin


Hi, Robin!

You asked a lot of questions and I am going to do my best to get to them all.

First, the microphone.  Yes, there’s a new feature for the smart phone app that has the ability to turn on the microphone on your phone.  The stated idea is that Facebook will be able to identify what is happening around Facebook users and use code to add that information to your Facebook status updates.  Not conversation –the focus is on what music you are listening to and what TV programs you are watching.  According to Facebook, it is an optional feature, meaning you do not have to activate it.  If you do choose to use this feature, it is only active when you are posting a Facebook update.  Facebook will not store listening or viewing information about you.


Second, will running automatic updates automatically give Facebook access to your microphone?  No.  The microphone feature is one that you have to actively turn on.  If you’ve turned the feature on, you’ll see an audio icon moving on the screen when you write a status update.  If the feature finds a match, you can then choose to add the song, TV show or movie to your post.  If you turn it on to try it and decide you don’t want it, you can turn it off by clicking the audio icon in the top right of the screen.

If you leave the feature on, you will see the audio icon move and attempt to detect a match when you’re writing a status update.  No sound is stored and you’ll always get to choose whether you post to your friends.  I hope this answers your question!

Until next time … Happy Computing!

       PC Doctor