Is Your Phone Mic Spying on Your Conversations & Suggesting Ads?

Is Your Phone Mic Spying on Your Conversations & Suggesting Ads?

Tech News

Editor: Rahul Sanpui
Camera Person: Sumit Badola

Imagine you’re having a conversation with your friend about buying a car and the very next day you see an ad about the same car pop up on your Instagram feed or as one of the ads on Facebook. This after you didn’t even go online and search for it.

Many people around the world have shared similar experiences and think that tech giants like Google and Facebook are spying on us using the phone’s microphone and then eavesdrop on our conversations to suggest advertisements.

To date, nothing of that sort has been proven.

Facebook has gone public in saying that it does not use the mic to eavesdrop on any audio. The company put out a statement saying:

“We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.” The representative added, “We do not access the microphone just because the app is opened nor do we use it when you’re not in the app.”

In a recent testimony to the US Congress, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also confirmed that the platform does not record any audio unless the user activates the phone’s voice assistant by saying the trigger word, "Ok Google".

Despite several claims by companies, many people have taken to Twitter posting their experiences of something similar happening with them.

According to a story on Wired, if companies and apps were recording your data, they would need 33 times more amount of space just to store that huge volume of data. Just think about it, would Facebook or Google or anybody really go through all that pain?

Many experts believe that there are algorithms that can predict with astonishing accuracy what you’re likely to be thinking or talking about. A CBS story says that, Google has trackers on 76 percent of websites while Facebook watches us on 23 percent of sites. If not the mic, they are sure to pick up stuff from your search history.

Fact check!

There are many applications that do record your audio. According to multiple stories on The Guardian, and The New York Times, there are many apps and games on the PlayStore and App Store that use the phone's mic to record audio even when not required. Now that is unethical.

I recommend you to stay away from such games or apps that need access to your mic for no reason at all. And for the ones paranoid about being targeted by Facebook or Google, deny these apps access to your phone's mic. You'll find the setting in your phones privacy settings.

As of now there is no way to prove whether these tech giants are indeed eavesdropping on our conversations or not. The only thing we can hope is that they use the audio for only targeting ads and not for something malicious.

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