Is the Facebook App Using Your Microphone To Improve Ads?

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Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. Very few people could have anticipated how big will Facebook become, including its founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The company has acquired both WhatsApp and Instagram over the years, and is currently a marketing machine, amongst other things. As it's usually the case with such huge companies, Facebook often finds itself in the midst of controversy, though those allegations are not always legit. That being said, we've stumbled upon a rather interesting report recently which might interest you, read on.

According to Kelli Burns, a mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, Facebook could be listening in on people's conversations constantly for advertising purposes. The Facebook app might not not just be harvesting your phone's data, but also listening in on your conversations. According to professor Burns, Facebook might be listening in on your conversations by using the phone's microphone, which helps them shoot proper advertising your way. The professor even claims she tested this feature by discussing particular topics while her phone was nearby, and then she stumbled onto connected ads in the Facebook app. Now, professor Burns, cannot confirm this is true, but the coincidence is quite interesting.

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Facebook actually admitted that they're listening in on people's conversations in order to collect information, but they also said that this data is not used to send specific ads to users. "Facebook does not use microphone audio to inform advertising or News Feed stories in any way. Businesses are able to serve relevant ads based on people's interests and other demographic information, but not through audio collection," said the company. Now, do keep in mind that this 'feature' is only available in the US at the moment. Furthermore, if you visit Facebook's help pages, you'll notice that the company claims they do not record conversations, but that they do use the audio to identify what's happening around the device. This statement can be found on Facebook's help page: "If your phone's microphone has trouble matching what you're listening to or watching, the room you're in may be loud or a commercial may be on. If this happens, tap, drag and release your screen to try a new match."

Now, for those of you who would like to prevent Facebook to listening altogether, you can do that, quite easily actually. All you have to do is visit phone's settings, then privacy and change the permissions for Facebook, in other words, prevent the app from using your phone's microphone.