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Is Facebook listening to your conversations?

Is Facebook listening to your conversations?
[Photo: Rodio Kutsaev/Unsplash]

Anyone who has spent time on Facebook has a story: Over a mimosa-fueled brunch, you tell a friend about your desperate need for a hangover cure, and then you log onto Facebook only to be served ads for ClearVia, Advil, Liquid IV, and a Bloody Mary bar.

Is Facebook eavesdropping on your conversations?

The tech podcast Reply All turned its gimlet-eye (podcast humor!) to the question of whether Facebook is using your phone’s microphone to listen in on your conversations to serve up ads related to your specific needs.

While Facebook adamantly denies listening to people’s conversations, as it turns out, based on Reply All‘s research, the company probably doesn’t need to. That’s because it already knows where you are (thanks location services!), what you like to buy (ad tracking), and who you are probably hanging out with (friends, family, etc).

So using the hangover cure ads as an example, Facebook already knows you checked into a bar the night before, looked at a website for bloody Mary recipes, checked in at brunch, and tagged your friend. Put all those together, and voilà!

That explanation probably won’t do much to convince those who are sure Facebook’s ear is always listening. But it some ways, it’s an even more unsettling thought. Check out the full podcast here.

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