Does Facebook Listen? How Does It Know What I Talked About?
The information age is really taking a toll on everyone’s privacy. You absolutely cannot live without technology in this day and age, and it comes at a hefty price.
Facebook and other social media apps have billions of users. Having a profile on social media used to be seen as a fad, but soon almost everyone got on board with it. Today, it is a necessity, giving you a way to stay in touch with friends and family, and it can be a major part of your professional life too.
The homepage of Facebook states: “It’s free and always will be”.
But is it really free, or does it come with a hidden price? Have we all signed off our privacy when we joined Facebook? Stick around and find out if there is any truth to the theories about Facebook listening to your private conversations.
Why Do You Think Facebook Is Listening to You?
For years now, people have been debating whether Facebook was really spying on us or not. These ideas are refuted by Facebook officials, who call them conspiracy theories. They claim that Facebook does not use the microphones in their users’ phones to record audio.
According to Facebook, ad placements are not based on private conversations. Instead, Facebook uses public profile information, the pages you like, your status updates, your interests, and so on. All of this is legal and you agree to it when you sign up.
In spite of these statements, many people feel like Facebook is stalking them. It has probably happened to you as well. Say you’re just talking with a friend about something you like, and bam, you see an ad for the exact brand or product on your news feed. Is this just a coincidence, or is something fishy going on with this beloved social media app?
Both Google and Facebook are known for collecting your browser data, whether you are logged on or not. It is very common to get targeted ads based on the info they collected this way. Maybe the ads will not be for the exact product you googled, but for something similar based on your preferences.
Your Facebook Friends Could Be the Link
Facebook also tracks your location, and if you go out with friends and take a picture, it will use this information as well. Why is this important? Because Facebook follows more than just your picture tags. It follows your friends too, and it knows how close you are with each friend based on your interactions.
Thanks to that information, Facebook can take your friends into account when it places ads for you. Maybe you did not Google that product you just talked about, but your friend did, and Facebook knows it.
Even if your friend list is not that crowded, and you talked about something with just one person, it could be enough for Facebook to realize the potential for profit. But first, your friend has to have Googled the product in question.
Measures of Prevention
It is very difficult to stop Facebook from what it is doing with its targeted ads. However, you can at least restrict access to your private information. You can find out a lot about this if you click on “Managing Your Account” on Facebook and then go into Accessing & Downloading Your Information. You can also check out the Privacy and Safety menu if you want to know more.
In case you think you are at the point of no return, the final solution is to completely delete Facebook. To do so, go to “Managing Your Account”, then Deactivating or Deleting Your Account. This way, you will delete almost all your data from the Facebook servers.
It’s unclear how much of your deleted data is retained by Facebook. But your private information should not be available online anymore if you do all this. It takes 30 days to entirely wipe a profile, and you can change your mind during this period. After the 30 days are up, there is no way of retrieving the deleted data.
So Is Facebook Really Listening?
Facebook may have a spotty record in terms of security and privacy, but it most likely is not actually listening to your daily conversations. This would take too much time and effort and it is obviously illegal. A privacy breach of that scale would be the end of this social app.
There is no supporting evidence to the many theories about Facebook eavesdropping. But since people willingly give up a great deal of their privacy and personal information, it’s not surprising that targeted ads are becoming distressingly accurate.