Targeting users with personalized ads based on their interactions with a particular website or a product is a common practice among advertisers. However, Facebook is trying to take this game of personalization two steps ahead of its competitors. Recently a new video has surfaced on YouTube that demonstrates how Facebook is using the voice conversations of its users to show relevant ads. Don’t believe me, watch it yourself.

As described by the Youtuber, he feels that Facebook is listening to their conversation and picking up keywords to show ad suggestions. So he decides to test it out with the help of his wife. He kept the Facebook app running in the background and started talking about “Cat food” with his wife. And within 2 days of their conversation, he started seeing ads about Cat food inside his Facebook app. He also mentioned that neither he nor his wife looked up for the term Cat food online on any search engines or other social media platforms like Instagram. Creepy, isn’t it?

Facebook denied yet again by saying that they are not, in any way using the voice data from mobile devices of its app users to show personalized ads. There were similar remarks in 2016 made by other users saying that even they have experienced the same kind of ad targeting in the Facebook app where they would see an ad related to their conversation with friends. During that time, Facebook had responded by publishing an article that assured that they do not use its user’s phone’s microphone for ads and news feed stories.

There are quite a few people who do not agree with this Facebook’s statement. And many have uninstalled the Facebook app because this spooky reason. There are certain aspects which users might not consider, like, if any one of the devices connected to a WiFi network searches for a particular keyword, there is higher chances of other devices in the same WiFi network to see relevant ads based on that keyword, because of the same IP address. Another aspect would be location, if multiple devices are looking for a particular product or service in one location then others might start seeing similar ads based on the search parameters. Facebook might also be collecting data from other apps installed on your phone and using it to display ads. All this is understandable.

Strange things is that even when the Facebook app is closed, it tends to drain the battery life and occupy decent amount on space on a smartphone. Which indicates that they are running background process for some reasons. Maybe passively recording user conversations too?

Facebook claims that they display ads based on the user’s interest and other profile information which they provide themselves. Earlier they changed WhatsApp’s privacy policy where they mentioned that WhatsApp will share some user data with Facebook for ad targeting and other services within the Facebook family.

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The security of smartphones and personal laptops have always been questioned by many experts and they advised to avoid using it whenever possible. One of the pics of Mark Zuckerberg from last year where he celebrates 500 million active users on Instagram revealed that he covered his laptop’s camera and microphone jack with tape. Paranoid? Not just him, many others follow the same practice denoting that someone can have access to your smartphone or laptop sensors.


The above video might not be an appropriate source of information and whether or not Facebook uses your voice conversations to show personalized ads is hard to signify. Have you ever experienced any such creepy instances before?


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December 23, 2017

Comments

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