Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s “creepy” new feature is a massive threat to user privacy, and hundreds of thousands of users have realized it. Recently, the social networking giant unveiled a new feature that automatically activates your smartphone’s mic and listens in to your real-life conversations. The irony is, Facebook introduced this new feature as it is fighting against government snooping.

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Online petition may prompt Facebook to listen to users

In this age of Edward Snowden’s revelations, users may not want Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to take control of their devices’ mic and listen in on them. The feature has only been rolled out in the U.S. so far. Launch of the new feature has sparked a backlash, and users are making an effort to get the Menlo Park-based company to kill the development. When you are typing a status update, the feature picks up on what’s happening in the background such as a TV or music playing.

According to News.com.au, the feature works similar to the song-identification app Shazam. However, it has freaked out a lot of people. An online petition against this new feature is gathering steam. At the time of this writing, 559,832 people have signed it. Now it will need less than 200,000 more signatures to reach the goal of 750,000. If the petition reaches that mark, Mark Zuckerberg will perhaps listen to the users.

Facebook tries to defend its new feature

What the feature actually does is it listens to what’s happening in the background, tries to identify the TV program or music, and automatically adds a little tag at the end of the status update like “Watching The Lord of the Rings.” Amid the backlash, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) was forced to defend itself. The company says it uses the new feature only for harmless things like identifying the TV show or music playing in the background. But petitioners say that by activating the phone’s mic automatically, it has the ability to listen to everything.

Last week, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) tried to alleviate users’ fears by stressing that the new feature was optional and listening-in occurred only when a user was writing status updates. Anyway, the data collected could be helpful in attracting more advertisers.

Facebook Inc shares gained 0.75% on Wednesday to close at $63.34.