Is Facebook listening to you? These Ads Appear Online For A Reason Rogersville
Last time we talked about how to use Facebook safely. But what about the things Facebook really has no control over just by agreeing to the terms of service that we entered into when we first started using the app?
One of the things Facebook does is “follow” you. And you gave him permission to do so! Tracking is very sophisticated and uses very advanced algorithms, mainly for the benefit of paid advertisers on Facebook.
Lots of people mention it so I’m sure you’ve probably experienced it. You’re having a casual conversation with someone, most of the time within earshot of your cell phone, because let’s face it, they’re always with us, and one of you will mention a product as a recommendation to the other. Later today you’re on Facebook and all of a sudden, very strangely, there’s an ad on your calendar for the exact product that you just talked about with your friend! We wonder don’t we? Does Facebook listen to us?
There’s a reason this is happening, but listening to our conversations probably isn’t, although it certainly seems to be. Sometimes it seems like you can just think of something and an advertisement for what you are thinking mysteriously appears!
The accusation that apps are listening has been brought against social media giants like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Adam Mosseri. By the way, Facebook owns Instagram and finally has over 90 other companies. Each time, they have firmly denied that apps listen to users through the microphones of their smartphones or other devices.
For the most part, the opinion of industry experts is that they are telling the truth. First, it would be illegal. And second, can you imagine that the volume of conversations that should be actively listened to, recorded, and stored would rival the number of prayers that rise to heaven on a daily basis. Maybe more.
The truth is, they might not be listening in the most common sense, but they definitely follow us, both online and offline. In a way, they listen to our lives, but not as most would think.
For example, let’s say you’re in a meeting with someone and they tell you about a new online service that they just tried and really liked. You have never texted this friend about this service, you have never searched for it on google, you just had a conversation aloud with your friend. Of course, your phone is close and that counts in this scenario, but not as you might think.
Later today or the next day you are browsing Facebook and magically there is an advertisement for the online service that your friend just told you about.
Facebook didn’t hear your conversation, but they’re good enough at following you in another way that it might feel that way.
Facebook keeps track of which websites we visit, what we’ve searched, what we’ve purchased, and where we are when we do these things. The results of this tracking have a direct influence on the ads we see when we browse Facebook.
Location tracking just played a big part in what you might think of as Facebook eavesdropping through your microphone. Even when you are not logged in to the app, Facebook can track the location of your mobile phone. Remember the terms of service we talked about at the start of this article? You gave them permission to do so.
In the example above, Facebook was able to determine that you and your friend were at the same gathering, and if your friend has had any online interaction with the service you discussed, then there is your connection. Facebook knows you are friends on the app and knows you were together. Your friend mentioned this service and Facebook knows it was recently. If your friend had mentioned a physical store that he visited, Facebook knows he was in that store. Using educated guess, Facebook sends you an ad for what you and your friend may have been talking about.
Even more complicated, your friend might not even have visited the site or store you mentioned, but maybe a friend of theirs did. If there are enough similarities, Facebook will take a photo that you may want to see this ad.
Besides just being with that friend, Facebook knows your interests, your demographics, where you’ve been, what groups you’re in, trends you’re following, and the list goes on. They compare those with the same details of your friend. If you are similar, the fact that your friend likes a certain product or service may mean that you might like the same and Facebook gives the ad a chance with you.
Sometimes it feels like even the mere thought of something will generate publicity for it. It’s probably less of a coincidence than you might think. Anything Facebook picked up, before or after thinking about it, could trigger the ad. Examples include engaging in a post, liking a person’s photo, or logging into another online service with your Facebook account. A complex algorithm is actually “listening” simply by not using the microphones it may appear to be using.
If you want to limit tracking, there are permissions you adjust to limit how Facebook tracks and uses your information. But, just using the app in any capacity gives it enough information to learn more about your potential interests for advertising purposes. The only way to be one hundred percent sure that you are not being tracked is to exit the app and never use it.
Seeing ads after talking about something may be a coincidence, but probably not as much as we think.
There probably isn’t a human sitting somewhere listening to what your microphone is picking up, but apps are constantly monitoring our behaviors for the benefit of advertisers on those apps.
It seems like Big Brother is still listening, and he is. Not like you might think.