Liars at Facebook deny secretly recording users' conversations for targeted advertising...but they lie

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Liars at Facebook deny secretly recording users' conversations for targeted advertising...but they lie

The social network promises it isn't listening to you

By Rob Thubron 

A lot of people have stories about Facebook allegedly listening in on aconversation via a mobile’s microphone and using the info for targeted advertising purposes. Rumors that the social network hasbeen surreptitiously engaging in this practice have been around for years, but one of its executives has just been forced to deny themonce again.

PJ Vogt—the presenter of tech podcast Reply All—spoke about theclaims on a recent show, which involved people calling in with their own tales of possible Facebook spying. This led to the company'spresident of ads, Rob Goldman, responding with a tweet that read: "I run ads product at Facebook. We don't - and have never - used yourmicrophone for ads. Just not true."

I run ads product at Facebook. We don't - and have never - used yourmicrophone for ads. Just not true.
Rob Goldman (@robjective) October 26, 2017

There are thousands of people who believe that after discussing a certaintopic in the real world, a related ad later appeared on their Facebook feeds. While the site is filled with adverts, conspiracistssay these particular ads feature the same obscure or specific products they were talking about, proving the company is up to nogood.

Facebook is open about its audio recording capabilities, but these only allow users who have opted-in to identify and tagmusic or television programs playing in the near vicinity. If the feature is enabled, it uses a microphone for 15 seconds when a personis writing a status update; it isn’t used for advertising purposes, according to the company.

It’s incredible just how many people claim to have experienced this'listening' phenomenon—often more than once. I know a few people myself who swear it has happened to them. But in reality, it’s hardto imagine that one of the largest, richest firms in the world would risk throwing everything away–and probable jail time—just toimprove targeted advertising. Moreover, it’s likely that Facebook doesn’t yet possess the technology to make it possible.

Remember: Facebook does know a lot about you and your friends, and its adalgorithms use this data all the time. Perhaps some people forgot about a search they performed that was related to the conversation inqustion. But most of all, a lot of this comes down to pure coincidence.

Or maybe that’s what they want you to believe.

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