Facebook using people’s phones to listen in on what they’re saying, suggests professor

Share Button

The company says that it does use peoples’ microphones, but only to help them out – and there’s an easy way of turning it off

womanfacebook_0

Facebook could be listening in on people’s conversations all of the time, an expert has claimed.

The app might be using people’s phones to gather data on what they are talking about, it has been claimed.

Facebook says that its app does listen to what’s happening around it, but only as a way of seeing what people are listening to or watching and suggesting that they post about it. 

The feature has been available for a couple of years, but recent warnings from Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, have drawn attention to it.

Professor Burns has said that the tool appears to be using the audio it gathers not simply to help out users, but might be doing so to listen in to discussions and serve them with relevant advertising. She says that to test the feature, she discussed certain topics around the phone and then found that the site appeared to show relevant ads.

Though Professor Burns said she was not convinced that Facebook is listening in on conversations – it may have been that she was searching for the same things that she chose to discuss around the phone – but she said that it wouldn’t be a surprising move from the site.

The claim chimes with anecdotal reports online that the site appears to show ads for things that people have mentioned in passing.

Facebook said that it does listen to audio and collect information from users – but that the two aren’t combined, and that sounds heard around people aren’t used to decide what appears in the app.

“Facebook does not use microphone audio to inform advertising or News Feed stories in any way,” a spokesperson told The Independent. “Businesses are able to serve relevant ads based on people’s interests and other demographic information, but not through audio collection.”

At the moment, the feature is only available in the US.

When it was first introduced, in 2014, Facebook responded to controversy by arguing that the phone isn’t “always listening” and that it never stores the “raw audio” when it is listening.Facebook says explicitly on its help pages that it doesn’t record conversations, but that it does use the audio to identify what is happening around the phone. The site promotes the feature as an easy way of identifying what you are listening to or watching, to make it easier and quicker to post about whatever’s going on.

If people want to use the feature that way, then they can start writing a post in the normal way. If it’s turned on, then it will start identifying what is being listened to or watching – at which point a little face with some soundwaves next to it will appear.

If it identifies the sound successfully, then it will show a little “1” next to the face instead – users can then click that, select the thing they are watching or listening to, and then write the rest of the update.

“If your phone’s microphone has trouble matching what you’re listening to or watching, the room you’re in may be loud or a commercial may be on,” according to Facebook’s help page. “If this happens, tap, drag and release your screen to try a new match.”

Turning off the microphone in a phone’s settings is relatively easy, and since it can be done at the level of the operating system, doing so will mean that Facebook can’t turn it on even if it wanted to. It’s done on an iPhone by heading to the app’s settings, clicking through to privacy and switching the slider for microphone; on Android phones, head to settings and then privacy, and change the permissions that the Facebook app is given.

The claims come after Belgian police warned citizens not to use Facebook’s Reactions tool if they valued their privacy.

Source : .independent

Share Button

12 Comments

  1. Thank you for your article. Keep writing.

  2. A big thank you for your blog.Really thank you! Will read on…

  3. Great, thanks for sharing this article. Awesome.

  4. Thanks so much for the article post.Thanks Again. Much obliged.

  5. Hi there I am so thrilled I found your webpage, I really found you by error, while I was researching on Digg for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thank you for a marvelous post and a all round entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read much more, Please do keep up the awesome work.

  6. wow, awesome post.Really thank you! Cool.

  7. Really appreciate you sharing this post.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  8. Im obliged for the article.Much thanks again. Keep writing.

  9. A big thank you for your blog. Awesome.

  10. Fantastic web site. Plenty of useful information here.

    I am sending it to a few pals ans also sharing in delicious.
    And naturally, thank you on your sweat!

  11. “Link exchange is nothing else but it is only placing the other person’s web site link on your page at suitable place and other person will also do same in support of you.”

  12. sQ4cWv I really love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you develop this web site yourself?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.