This man has put together evidence that our smartphones are listening to us
Creepy or coincidence?
It has probably happened to you at some stage, you've been having a conversation about something with a friend or family member, then minutes later you're on your phone, and an ad pops up related to the conversation.
It happened recently with me, my brother phoned me to see did I want a lift to a concert we were going to. I said I'd get the bus and meet him there. Ten minutes later I was on Facebook and the first ad I see is advertising buses to Slane (where the concert was on). Creepy or coincidence?
We'll let that one slide, but there's numerous incidences where the net reflects real life a little too closely for comfort though, such as these examples from Youssef Sarhan.
You can view the full thread here.
If you're to look at Reddit, there's thousands of stories of people who are convinced their smartphone is listening to them.
“Smartphones are small tracking devices,” Michelle De Mooy, Acting Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Privacy & Data Project, told Digital Trends. “We may not think of them like that because they’re very personal devices — they travel with us, they sleep next to us. But they are in fact collectors of a vast amount of information including audio information.”
But both Facebook and Google have denied that they target you with ads by using your phone's microphone.
Facebook released a short statement on the subject last year following reports.
Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.
We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.