People have wondered for some time how Facebook works out what adverts to serve up to which people and sometimes an advert that’s a little too accurate may turn up. That’s sets people wondering whether Facebook listens in on their phone conversations and there’s anecdotal evidence that seems to make the point.
At recent congressional hearings, when Senator Gary Peters asked Mark Zuckerberg (head of Facebook) if Facebook listens to users through their cell phone microphones in order to collect information with which to serve them adverts, Zuckerberg said “No.”
How Facebook Collects Information
The Facebook APP does request microphone permissions for any videos you post, as well as to identify music or TV shows when you use the “Listening to” status feature, but does not listen to your conversation.
It starts with your Facebook profile plus everything you post on Facebook. Facebook tracks you through Like buttons on other web pages. This is even true for people without a Facebook account.
- Uses data from its other APPS – Instagram and WhatsApp
- Tracks data from APPS within Facebook e.g. quizzes
- Tracks when you use your Facebook login to access other websites
- Maintains shadow profiles on people who don’t use Facebook.
- Records unique phone identifiers through in-app advertising to associate your identity across the different devices you use.
- Tracks your location constantly
- Tracks your purchases
If you have ever been surprised by a Facebook advert for a product popping up right after you were talking out loud about it, it may be that Facebook has learned too much about you but it won’t be from your conversations.
Most people dislike adverts but understand that advertising fund the websites and services and APPS so is a necessary ‘evil’. Some prefer adverts that are relevant whereas others find that creepy or intrusive.
However, most do accept that targeted advertising is likely to become more prevalent and more accepted.
Facebook don’t listen to your conversations, but they can collect so much information about us that it may seem that adverts can sometimes be too accurately targeted at you.
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