No, Facebook Is Not Eavesdropping on You Through Your Smartphone
It's time to move on from everyone's favorite Facebook conspiracy theory: No, Facebook is not listening to you through your phone's microphone.
This is a crowd favorite. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week to discuss the company's data collection and privacy policies, he was asked if Facebook was spying on people through their microphones twice: Once by Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Tuesday, and once by Congressman Larry Bucshon, R-Ill., on Wednesday.
Even those of us at Recode have been guilty of wondering whether or not Facebook is listening in.
But it's finally time to move on.
Zuckerberg said it's not true, not once, but twice, on the record, in front of Congress. His denial wasn't even new. The company wrote a blog post back in 2016 explaining that it doesn't do this. The post was helpfully titled, "Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone's Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories."
But while it may not be true, it's interesting that this theory routinely comes up. The fact that Facebook's ad targeting is, at times, so accurate that people assume the company must be spying on them is a great endorsement of Facebook ads. But it's also a spooky reminder of how much Facebook must know about you and what you do in your daily life.
And if you're worried Facebook might be listening to you through your phone, you might not like what the company has in store. Facebook is building an in-home video-chat device that will include microphones. But given all the data concerns around the company, Facebook has decided to delay its release.
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Image credit: iStock/Artist's concept.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 2:05pm PT
The hilarity is that everyone is in on it... the media.... the govt... these vampire corporations... even the small guy that uses analytics for advertising. They all gain from spying on you. Nahhhhh never mind it can't be true... I trust them all.
Joe St. Martin:
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 12:14pm PT
They may not be listening, but they stole every one of my contacts and all their info from my phone, i.e.address and phone nos. These contacts are only listed on my Samsung phone and not on my notebook. These devices are not synced. When I download the info that FB had on my laptop...all those contacts came up. Explain that!!!
An informed individual.:
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 12:13pm PT
Mark CUCKerberg wouldn't disclose what hotel he was staying at. Facebook records your location without your approval. CUCKerberg went on to say "15,000 people screen posts for what WE DEEM HATE SPEECH." what THEY deem hate speech. Basically "oh you're NOT a brainwashed liberal? Yeah that's hate speech." Facebook is a blight of society. It's the plague of the internet and my life became 5 times happier AFTER getting rid of it. #FACEBOOK #cuckerberg
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 12:12pm PT
Yes they do. Nice try Facebook-associated press.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 12:10pm PT
Maybe they don't listen now, but the certainly did before. They even admitted it at the time! We once had Facebook open on our phone and started talking about where we wanted to go on vacation. We had no mentioned it nor searched for it. We were just talking. When we then opened Facebook a min. later there was nothing but ads for the place we'd just been talking about as well as stories about the song that had been playing on the radio at the time. Facebook has had a privacy issue for many years. Do they listen to my phone's mic now? No. I followed the instructions they'd posted several years ago to "opt-out" of that "feature". You know, the one they now deny.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 12:06pm PT
I mean what would they have to gain from eavesdropping on you...other than billions of dollars in advertising money.
Google can tell who you are by the way your click your mouse or type on your keyboard. They don't need to collect personal info when they can cross reference that data with your ip address and other public personally identifiable information.
People just don't want to know because they like these websites and they would have to give them up once they realized the true impact on themselves and society.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 11:42am PT
So just because the CEO says it's not true I'm supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy? Yeah not going to happen. Why in the world would he come out and say the truth to everyone? What does he have to gain from it?
Nam E. First:
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 11:34am PT
That's it? They denied it twice and you are done investigating? I hope you realize that people doing things that they don't want others to know often lie about doing those things.
Taking evidence lessons from Orange Bozo?
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 11:26am PT
You gotta be kidding me here...
Mark wasn't under oath, this is a flat-out lie and everyone knows it.
But try keeping up the charade if you must...it doesn't matter. Zuck will resign soon, mark my words.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 11:25am PT
Taking CuckyZucky's word on this one is insane. Multiple independent security firms have confirmed the microphone is active and that data is being transmitted at all times when the FB app is installed. (not foreground, just installed period)
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 11:23am PT
Facebook is 1984. Eventually they will take over the planet digitally.
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 10:24am PT
So your evidence is that Mark said it's not true, so it's not true?
Posted: 2018-04-16 @ 10:20am PT
Yes, they do. I have tested this on several occasions. As a cyber security expert, it is my job to not trust what people "say," and actually "test" tech for security flaws. Drop your phone in water, the next ad you will see on Facebook is about water accidents with your phone. Say key phrases over and over again, without being logged into Facebook, then log in, and check the ads, your key words will be advertised to you. Just test this.