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Are Our Phones Listening to Us?

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This is a bit of a conspiracy theory, but one I find interesting. A lot of things have been popping up on my phone either in advertisements or google reward surveys. Last week I was on the train talking to friends about their personal finance assignment, then a friend who is a finance major joined in. This began a 10-minute conversation about mutual funds. By the time we got to dinner a few hours later, my Google survey had questions asking if I had any investments in mutual funds. This seemed super specific and something I had never searched about before, so we began some research. Apparently, there is a popular theory that Google and Facebook uses your mic to listen and then recommend you ads based on what it hears. A lot of the articles debunk the theories mentioning location based ads, the fact that your phone might need constant data usage to complete the tasks, there are no clear trigger words like what might be found with an amazon echo or google home, and that the English language is filled with nuances and sarcasm. I think this is a fairly interesting idea, and something I never gave much notice to until the other day. Even if the data and experiments that prove that this is false, I think we should all still be conscious of the ads that we consume, as they usually have some basis in our online activity.

3 comments

  1. Immediately when reading this blog title I believe that our devices ARE listening to us. I feel like cookies play a large role in this because when I search things on google I see it in advertisements on other websites. It seems as if when I say things in person and then go on my device I see the information posted. This is quite interesting and makes me thing that our phones are listening to us.

  2. I think this is really interesting and I agree with you, as I believe our devices do have the ability to listen in on our conversations. I have had many personal experiences with this, one being that I was talking about the once popular starbucks drink, the unicorn frap, and within 5 minutes of me talking about it, an ad on instagram popped up for the starbucks unicorn frap, specifically. It was really weird, as I had never seen an ad for starbucks before on social media ever. When we give our phones and computers access through apps to use the microphone, this creates a gateway for those apps to then listen in and attempt to win us over through ads they will try to trick us with. Don’t get brainwashed by ads!

  3. Comment #9

    I do believe our phones are being watched weather its a text message you send, something you google online or even a phone call you have. Every single time I go surf the web for random things like a dress, that dress pops out as an Advertisement on every platform I go on, to the point that they even show me other dresses that look like the one I wanted. This is kind of creepy because when do you ever really have privacy???

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