Facebook doesn’t listen through your phone’s mic — except when it does
Is Facebook listening to every word you say? Zuck’s crew says it won’t use your speech to target advertising or reorder your feed, but it’s still unclear what it does use the microphone for. Aside from the obvious, that is. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers tighten their lips, for fear of sinking their privacy.
What’s the craic? Sophie Kleeman reports the denial—Facebook Says It’s Definitely Not Listening to Your Phone’s Microphone:
Facebook [is] not listening to your microphone. … Nope, no way, nuh-uh, no siree.
The pledge comes in response to recent reports…that Facebook could be using background conversations to [target] ads. … Facebook, however, dismissed the accusations.
Previously, Andrew Griffin reported the accusation—professor suggests:
Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida [said] she discussed certain topics around the phone and then found that the site appeared to show relevant ads. … The claim chimes with anecdotal reports [it] appears to show ads for things that people have mentioned in passing.
Facebook says…it doesn’t record conversations, but that it does use the audio to identify what is happening. … The claims come after Belgian police warned citizens not to use Facebook’s Reactions tool.
This seems pretty thin stuff, frankly. Facebook’s faceless PR mavens respond bluntly—Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone’s Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories:
Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. [We don’t] show ads based on…what you’re talking out loud about.
We only access your microphone…if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include…using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include…audio in your status updates.
Oh well that’s all right then. Zoe Kleinman notes Prof. Burns’ quote was blown out of proportion—claim denied by professor:
Burns has denied saying she believes Facebook is listening to people. … “I never made the claim that [it] is happening, or that my one experiment…was in any way proof. … I never said…Facebook can hear you.”
She has since heard from…people who believe it…also happened to them. … “I believe there are a lot of strange…coincidences out there and people are looking for those.”