Is your smartphone constantly listening in on your private conversations? It’s perhaps one of the most pervasive longstanding technology conspiracy theories. At some point, everyone has felt the eerie synchronicity of seeing an ad served up on Facebook that exactly corresponds to a recent conversation. It’s certainly unnerving, and the most simple explanation is one of direct surveillance.
Of course, Facebook is listening in on your private conversation with friends. It catches keywords and then serves you tailored advertisements. And of course, Facebook would deny this is happening.
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New Atlas reports that outside of anecdotal cases, no one’s been able to find clear evidence that it’s actually happening. Mobile cybersecurity company Wandera recently conducted a series of experiments which again prove your smartphone is not consistently listening in to your private conversations. While this urban myth has again been debunked, the truth about how companies like Facebook sometimes serve up such disturbingly accurate advertisements turns out to be much more complex, and unsettling.
Facebook admits listening to private conversations
In early August 2019, Bloomberg News published a story revealing how Facebook had contracted an external company to transcribe audio conversations conducted through the Facebook Messenger app. The process was engaged to test the accuracy of an automatic transcription algorithm Facebook was rolling out. The company claimed all users who opted into the transcription service were aware of the potential human review system. While some reports questioned how transparent Facebook’s notification process actually was, the story rapidly spread across media outlets. A vast of array of headlines dramatically affirming, “Facebook admits it was listening to your private conversations.” Continue reading about what Facebook is really doing.
Source: New Atlas