The Facebook Mobile App Wants to Be Your Music and TV Expert

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
May 22 2014 11:17 AM

The Facebook Mobile App Wants to Be Your Music and TV Expert

facebookmusictv
If you haven't listed anything on your profile about favorite music, TV shows, and movies, Facebook needs another way to figure you out.

Photos from Facebook.

Facebook wants to know even more about the music, TV shows, and movies you like, so it’s offering a new feature on its mobile apps that can identify what you’re listening to. Similar to Shazam, the function recognizes songs and television shows by listening to a snippet of the sound around you.

Lily Hay Newman Lily Hay Newman

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

Not surprisingly, once you’ve used the app to figure out what song (or whatever) you’re listening to, the feature encourages you to share it on Facebook. The service is part of Facebook’s larger initiative to become an indispensible ecosystem for its users. And it’s also part of a movement—more of an imperative than a trend in the last few months—to offer additional features that appear to add value as a way of enticing users to share more data. The more data Facebook owns, and the more specificity that data has, the more ads Facebook can sell.

Advertisement

Jesse Pujji, the chief executive of digital advertising company Ampush Media Inc., told the Wall Street Journal, “They’re just trying to reduce the friction of capturing that information. Facebook wants to demonstrate utility before it asks people to give up privacy.”

Sure, but the issue is that the service doesn’t really make sense. The music identification component is reasonable and was probably easy to build at this point, but how often are you watching a TV show or movie without knowing what it is? Between streaming and channel guides on cable, it’s hard to imagine that that scenario would present itself often.

Especially because if you plop down on a couch where your friends are already watching a show, the standard approach to finding out what it is would be to say, “What show is this?” The time we spend on our smartphones has changed human social interactions, but that simple exchange is still within our abilities. Perhaps if you were in a hotel room with no guide feature or channel you could find yourself watching something unknown on Lifetime and questioning your choices. But even that doesn’t really justify the feature. Maybe Facebook is trying to imitate Viggle (the app that gives you points when it hears that you’re watching new television shows or listening to new music).

Whatever the explanation, the feature is small enough that any inefficiency doesn’t really matter. But all of these little prompts we receive to enter more personal information add up to a persuasive force that’s hard to avoid. If you’re not very forthcoming on social media, all of these little extras will try to wear you down. That’s why they’re there.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.