Are Your Phones Listening to You?

Facebook has requested permission to use your camera/microphone, do you accept?

Many of us have gotten this message when we decide to post a photo or a video on Facebook, and we click accept without a second thought. Often times we view these platforms as our friends rather than our enemies. It’s hackers we have to worry about right, not our friendly folk over in Silicone Valley.

Wrong.

This has become a topic of discussion recently. I’ve seen a few articles making their rounds on the internet, and Vice just released a video about it as well, bringing it to the mainstream.

However, many of us have wondered about this long before someone made a video or wrote an article about it. We just brushed it off until we found out that others shared our fears.

My suspicions were raised about three years ago when I was talking to my friends about making a trip to Denver. We began to talk about it pretty consistently any time we were together and were debating about whether we should drive or fly.

A couple days later I was scrolling through Facebook when an ad caught my attention: Cheap flights from Minneapolis to Denver! I froze. I hadn’t been searching for cheap flights to Denver, nor had I made any mention of it on Facebook, so how had this ad managed to be so well targeted without any prior knowledge?

I found it strange but brushed it off.

Then about a year later, I was discussing how much I needed a car with a co-worker. They threw a couple ideas my way, telling me that they drove a Toyota Forerunner and they loved it. I thanked them for their suggestion and quickly forgot about the conversation.

That was until an ad on Facebook once again caught my attention: New or used Toyota’s for sale! 

Once more, I was shocked. I hadn’t been googling cars, let alone Toyota’s, nor had I posted any such thing on my Facebook. How had it known? Also, why out of all the cars it could advertise to me did it pick Toyota, the very brand that my lovely co-worker had recommended?

So, I did what any sane human would do at a time like this: I asked Siri. Her answer was stunning…

IMG_2962

Me: Siri, Is your phone always listening to you?

Siri: I’m not sure I understand.

Well played Siri, well played.

At that point, I decided to simply Google “Does your phone listen to you?”

What I found were several forums such as Reddit, Quora, and Yahoo answers where many users had the same question as I. It seemed that hundreds, if not thousands of people had experienced the same thing.

Not just on Facebook though, but on everything.

A Youtuber by the name of Mitchollow recently made a video that asked, Is Google always listening: Live test. In this video he put our theories to the test in real time by simply stating that he wanted, or needed something, and then going on Google to see if he would get an ad for that said “thing”.

Here’s the video, I suggest you watch it in it’s entirety:

This video, as well as many others seem to be pretty inconclusive. Someone made a comment about this whole fiasco recently that has stuck with me: if a product is free, then you are the product.

That’s basically what it boils down to. You are the product that Facebook wrangles in with click-bait articles and short entertaining videos, then turns around and sells to advertisers.

So, what can you do about this?

Well, my professional advice is that you throw your phone into the nearest body of water, sell everything you own, and move to a ranch in the middle of Montana, but if that isn’t something you can do then I suggest you calm down, keep your phone, and give this blog a follow. After all, nine out of ten conspiracy theorists have reported fewer incidences of cellular eavesdropping since they followed worthlessgold.blog.


Editor’s notes

  • The professionally done cover photo for this blog was made by Pablo Picasso.
  • If you would like to support the writer as well as Pablo Picasso click here. For just a dollar you can help fight cellular eavesdropping.
*Disclaimer*
The cover photo, while extremely professional and well crafted was not actually created by Pablo Picasso, any such statements are false however true they may seem. By donating to the writer’s Patreon you are helping only said writer, and not Pablo Picasso, although I’m sure he would back your donation 100% since he hated when his phone listened to him. There are no guarantees that following this blog will decrease instances of cellular eavesdropping, but feel free to test it out as often as you’d like. Hey, maybe even click on the ads if you really want to further experiment. 
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