What the Tech? Facebook listening
It's the conspiracy theory that's been going around the world for the past several years: Facebook listens to your conversations even when you're not using your phone. True or not?
Did we just get to the bottom of the "does Facebook listen to your conversations" conspiracy?
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before members of the U.S. Senate this week and was asked point-blank if it's something Facebook does with its billions of users. (D) Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan prefaced his question by saying it's a conspiracy he hears all the time, then he asked "For the record just to be clear, because I hear it all the time including from people on my staff; Yes or No, does Facebook use audio obtained from mobile devices to enrich personal information from its users?" Zuckerberg quickly answered "No" before elaborating on how the social network requires permission of a device's microphone in order to record audio with video.
The listening conspiracy dates back for years and you might pinpoint the date that Facebook introduced "Facebook Messenger". It was then people took note of the face Facebook was using their camera and microphone. Soon users began examining what else Facebook could use if given permission by the user.
TV stations and countless YouTubers have claimed to put the conspiracy to the test and have demonstrated that they were talking about something random to another person with their phone in the room. Days later, they report, Facebook was showing advertisements on their newsfeed and wall for items that were talked about days earlier.
Facebook has always denied the practice and now, testifying before the Senate, Zuckerberg has too (He was not under oath during questioning which should energize the conspiracy theorists out there.
The fact is, Facebook does not need to go so far as to develop technology that could pick up keywords when people were talking. For one thing, the microphone would always have to be listening and noting whether something was said that could be of use to advertisers and more importantly, Facebook does not need to spend money to find out what their users think or are interested in, because they have that information already through the users 'likes', 'loves' and posts.
But why are there so many videos of people claiming to have proved Facebook is listening? That is a good question.