always listening devices

Whatever you say can and will be used as a targeted ad against you.

Always listening devices are exactly what they sound like: hardware devices with microphonoes THAT ARE ALWAYS LISTENING TO YOU. This includes "smart speakers" such as Alexa or Google Home and also every smartphones that have "intelligent assistants" like Apple's Siri.

The controversies surrounding always listening devices are:

1) What are your audio recordings really being used for? In particular, will you be served advertising based on the content of your personal conversations? (very creepy) 2) Is anyone from the companies listening to this audio? (also very creepy)

Many people have conspiracy theories about #1. Some of these theories have been debunked, but in some cases, always listening device are using your audio data to target advertising. Facebook (shocking!) is one offender.

#occam's razor #always listening #wiretapping #instagram #facebook

always listening devices

Whatever you say can and will be used as a targeted ad against you.

Apps can access your smartphone mic, whether via a default setting, or as part of a series of permissions you agree to when you download and use the app.

Consider some scenarios:

  • A random app you give mic permissions to could be listening in, even when you’re not actively recording audio for your Snap, IG Story, voice query, etc. The app could sell the info it picks up to language processing services and third-party advertisers.

  • Theoretically, if the smartphone app picks up conversational language from users who haven’t consented to being recorded, it may violate wiretapping laws in states that require the consent of both parties to record the conversation. It is unclear if the user, or the company, would be violating wiretap laws.

“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed...We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio." -- Facebook Newsroom

This doesn’t mean Facebook doesn’t buy info sourced from other sneaky apps that have asked for and obtained your mic permissions, or apps that just run your mic without consent.