There’s a wildly popular conspiracy theory that Facebook listens to your private phone calls, and no matter what the tech giant says, people just aren’t convinced it’s not true (FB)

Mark Zuckerberg

There’s a widely held belief that Facebook and Instagram listen in on users through smartphones, and then serve advertisements based on what was said aloud.
Facebook and Instagram have repeatedly denied doing as much.
Despite those denials, and evidence from experts to the contrary, the belief is widely held and seemingly unshakable.
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There you were, talking to Gina about a potential trip this fall to Buenos Aires. “Maybe I’ll go to Buenos Aires this fall!” you said. “Or maybe Lisbon! Who knows!”

Hours later, idly scrolling through Facebook and — what’s that? An ad for vacationing in Lisbon? How could it have known?

It’s perhaps too familiar of a story at this point. A cliché. “Facebook is listening to my conversations!” you tell Gina. “I know it.” And she’s sympathetic. Maybe she even has her own story about something very similar happening to her.

Look no further than CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King, who related a similar story to Instagram head Adam Mosseri in an interview in June.

“Can you help me understand how I can be having a private conversation with someone about something I’m interested in seeing or buying, and an advertisement for that will pop up on my Instagram feed?” King asked. Even after he explained how it could be happening, King wasn’t convinced. “I don’t believe you!” she said. “I don’t know how this happens repeatedly.

The belief that Facebook and Instagram are listening to users through their smartphones, then serving ads based on that spying, is extremely pernicious.

It crosses generations, race, gender, and income brackets. Your conspiracy-minded uncle and members of Congress and your favorite morning news anchor are on the same page for this one. Everyone, it seems, believes that Facebook and Instagram are listening in on them.

And no matter how hard they try to tamp down that belief, it persists.

SEE ALSO: Want to get rid of Facebook for good? Here’s how to do it.

What’s this about?

Back in June 2016, Facebook issued a statement.

“Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone’s Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories,” is its headline.

The copy of the post goes into more detail: “Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information — not what you’re talking out loud about.”

It was a direct response to a news story that ran in May 2016 from an NBC outpost in Florida that purported to prove that Facebook was listening to users. “Facebook is not only watching, but also listening to your cell phone. It all starts with enabling your microphone feature in your settings. Once you do, choose your words carefully,” the piece says.

The proof in the piece was anecdotal — a professor interviewed by NBC enabled microphone access to her Facebook app, briefly talked aloud about potentially going on a safari, and, “Less than …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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