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Facebook is listening to your conversations: Be warned

Facebook is secretly listening to your conversations, but the truth is much more disturbing

The questions everyone is asking this week is – How come the private discussions we talk about with friends come up as advertisements as soon as that conversation is over?

How does Facebook occasionally deliver such disconcertingly timed advertisements? Is it really listening to users through their smartphone microphones? Or is the truth much more unsettling?

In a twitter rant by Larry Madowo @LarryMadowo – the famed Kenyan journalist working with the BBC, shared his frustrations with the social media app. In his rant, he argues that the big social media companies are using normal conversations (his private conversations) to sell adverts to unsuspecting users. In his post “I explained to my little nephew last night – in French – that I live in the US not Kenya. This morning, I’m getting this weirdly specific ad on Facebook. Is my phone listening to me? 🤔”, has brought to the attention of many social media users.

According to him, he has previously been forced to  use of incognito mode when he was travelling or keying in private details when book/paying for flights. But this is not enough since even normal conversations will be picked by WhatsApp, Facebook to sell him ads.
WhatsApp which is owned by Facebook takes the threat to the zenith. Imagine the many private discussions, pictures, videos even documents that you share via this apps are not as secure as you may think. There have been previous denials from Facebook and WhatsApp as per this Guardian post, but things have so far changed. In line with the conversation in Larry’s feed,
You can easily read the frustration that he carries to this post in which to his advise, “The moral of the story is: don’t use the internet. Shalom.” Larry closes the tweet.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous longstanding technology theories is that your smartphone is constantly listening in on your private conversations. Almost everyone at some point has felt this eerie synchronicity of seeing an ad served up on Facebook that exactly corresponds to a recent conversation. It’s certainly unnerving, and the most simple explanation is one of direct surveillance. But who really wants to be under surveillance? And not especially for journalists, government officials to whom information is of highest priority. Imagine discussing a “Breaking News” kind of information and before you event go live, the social media companies have already sold the story to your competitor in real time, and you no longer have the first spot. That is what journalists, and anyone dealing in this information age is worried about.

Last year, according to Forbes, Facebook gave its billions of users reasons to delete their accounts due to surveillance of its users.  This resulted from Facebook admitting to the public that external contractors (surveillance teams) we listeining to audio of users private conversation. According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook has hired the contractors to listen in to users taking advantage of the audio to text functionality in its Messenger service.

There is a risk of using the social media apps in your phone, meaning that you are not as safe, as private or as personal as you may think, your personal space is on sale to the highest bidder …sic, the highest advertiser.

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