Don’t Worry, Facebook Doesn’t Need to Listen to You

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Don’t Worry, Facebook Doesn’t Need to Listen to You

In the last couple of years, there has been a growing question among online users of whether Facebook and Facebook messenger use the cell phone microphone to listen to real-life conversations and place their site advertisements accordingly. Although Facebook denies ever using software that so blatantly eavesdrops on private conversations, there are an extensive amount of claims from users that advertisements for products start flooding screens immediately after they had been mentioned in conversation.

Hypothetically Facebook’s mobile application could listen to you, but that doesn’t mean that Facebook has ever practiced this. They do of course have a major history of crossing privacy boundaries; such as when they changed used default privacy settings in 2010 or utilized Facebook Beacon to notify users of what their friends are purchasing back in 2007. The company previously does not disclose to the public how much data they truly collect from the average user in an effort to advertise, but the company does not tend to blatantly lie about huge data collection because of the incredibly high risk of whistleblowers and leaks in the tech industry.

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Even if they successfully hid it from the media and kept the entire company silent, it would take a massive technology upgrade. In order to listen to conversations as claims state, Facebook would have to violate Apple’s terms of use, which could pose a major risk to their company should that be uncovered. They also would have to find a way to listen to people when the mobile app wasn’t actively in use, which would be a huge technological change that could not be hid from the company’s teams.

The advertisements seen on the app can definitely be a shocking match for products previously mentioned out loud, but there is also the high possibility that Facebook simply knows you better than you think it does. Even if you have not Googled a company or product outright, the software is intelligent enough to guess your thought process based on your recent click history and the history of those with similar interest as you. In most cases, Facebook has access to your location, search history, knows the products you tend to buy, who you take photos of and when, and the same details of your close family and friends.

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has openly admitted to buying outside data to use in the advertising process, which can tell almost as much about you as if they were listening. Odds are, it’s much more logical to assume that Facebook saw my boss, who I have an obvious connection with, google a local bakery so therefore they assumed I could have an interest as well.

1 Comment

Maddie Smith

Maddie Smith

September 18, 2018at 2:30 pm

Very interesting read. I know I’ve found an ad of the new running shoes I’ve been texting about with my friends pop up on my timeline before, which actually has resulted in a purchase immediately. I’m on Facebook and Instagram daily so there’s no doubt in my mind they know tons of information about me that I’m not even aware I’m giving. It makes sense though, they know everyones likes and dislikes and beyond that they know every single one of your friends likes and dislikes. They have absurd amounts of information on us, it’s no wonder they can target their advertisements so perfectly to each one of their users however creepy it may be.

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