Facebook starts turning on free voice calls for iPhone users in the US

“Earlier this month word got out that Facebook was trialing a free voice calling feature in Canada,” Terrence O’Brien reports for Engadget.

“We said that, if those tests went well, the company would expand to the US,” O’Brien reports. “Well, things must have gone swimmingly because, just two weeks later, American customers are starting to see the same feature turn up in the Messenger app [free via Apple’s iTunes App Store].”

O’Brien reports, “The voice call needs to be made over WiFi…”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

23 Comments

  1. How long before they start understanding what you’re talking about and start interrupting your conversation with commercials? I don’t trust any of these web companies that are trying to lure me into using services that they claim are free, only to find that they’re not so free after all. I would so much rather pay for services and know that there’s no hidden agenda.

        1. How so? A person holding a conversation with another person via a service offered by a third party has a reasonable expectation of the conversation remaining private.

          Whether the conversation is carried out over a dedicated voice circuit or cellular communications or VOIP (Facebook calls) is irrelevant.

          1. I just wanted to get the ball rolling. The “nut” is onto something though, since the protection in the U.S. is based on the Constitutional right to privacy. That protection applies to invasions by the government, not by others. So, there must be some other legal protection prohibiting the act in question for non-governmental bodies. As it applies to telephone conversations and non-governmental bodies, state laws apply. So it is not the expectation of privacy the determines whether or not you can be “tapped”, but the state law. As Mitt Romney so eloquently put it “Corporations are people,” so Facebook now being a corp. would be bound by state law.

            So BLN, what does your state say about individuals listening in on your phone calls?

            1. [citation needed]

              Nixon resigned. Andrew Johnson was impeached, before there WAS wiretapping. Bill Clinton was impeached for things entirely unrelated to wiretapping.

            2. And since most folks in the us probably make most of their calls locally… interstate communication would not even be a factor there. But my point is that (given FB’s history on privacy policy) FB will be one of the parties to the conversation.

              I doubt that many people would consider this a laughing matter.

            3. I would have thought that wiretapping is defined by the recording of a conversation, not a disembodied algorithm ala Siri listening in for inflection points. But then, if it wasn’t recorded in some fashion, how could FaceBook include it in a search graph? I have this aural image of a conversation between a man and his mistress, plotting the murder of his wife and a voice interrupts the conversation to tell the conversants that they need to listen to a 60 second commercial in order to extend their talk time for another 15 minutes, followed by a WalMart advert for the latest in assault rifles.

      1. Define “telephone”

        I predict Facebook will offer a store & forward voice recording feature, and in the fine print you’ll see them be awarded your blessing for converting your voice to text (ala Apple’s Siri agreement) but with the caveat that they may use the content of the text to offer you “enhanced services”

        1. Not if the conversation is being carried out in real time. A prerecorded service wouldn’t work in that instance.

          Also AT&T has no right to tap into your voice mail or anyone listen into the messages on your telephone answering machine without prior permission.

      2. BLN obviously hasn’t heard of warrant-less wiretapping – AKA the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. A five-year extension of this law, originally put in place during the Bush II Administration, was signed into law by President Obama last month. The scope of communications being monitored in the US is frightening.

      3. A service is a service. If you agree to use that service on their terms then they can do whatever they want. Doesn’t Google dig through people’s email that use their service? Or even search through your contacts and any documents you have stored on their servers? Of course they do. That’s why the services are free, you’re giving them access to your data so they can profile you and target specific ads to you and anyone you communicate with. Facebook does the same thing.

        Why do you think magazine publishers had such a huge problem with Apple not allowing them to their user data? Data mining and user profiling for ad targeting are BIG BUSINESS. They want to know what their users are interested in… they can sell ad real estate for more money.

        1. Exactly. People thinking about using this service should read the fine print in the FB user agreement very carefully. BLN’s argument regarding wiretapping may not apply – especially if you have already clicked your rights away to obtain yet another “free” FB or Google service.

          These companies are not in business to look out for your best interests. You are just another resource to these companies…another way to make money. History has shown that greedy people will stretch their activities into the gray area as far as possible. Eventually, if they don’t get caught, some of them will jump right into the dark abyss in which any means to make more money is justified.

    1. Your aluminum foil hat isn’t enough protection from ‘those guys out there’ from getting to you. You need to go into your bomb shelter to make all calls from a regular POTS unless you are worried about them tracing your location.

    1. You are anathema to AT&T…every one of you is a daily reminder that AT&T could be making more money if they had never agreed to offer “unlimited” data plans in the first place. You remind their other customers that they are getting shafted. aT&T wants you gone, and they are doing everything legally possible to push you into voluntarily surrendering your unlimited plan. Eventually they will find a way to squeeze out the few residual unlimited plan owners. It started a couple of years ago – no new services for unlimited folks – and they will continue seeking ways to make your unlimited plans as unrewarding as possible.

  2. I worry that if my calls were monitored and tapped, they’d find out I’m quite a normal, boring person with nothing to hide, oh and my Mum left me a voicemail asking to pickup some milk ftom the shop on my way to see her later as she’s nearly out of semi skimmed and if I want a cup of tea when I get there I’d better get some more. She’s got the correct change to reimburse me if I get it from Morrisons as it’s cheaper than Tesco and also easier to park there… she does go on does my Mother 😉

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