Data Privacy: Is Facebook eavesdropping you?

Have you ever asked yourself at one point if Facebook is eavesdropping your private conversations?

This question has sparked a lot of intrigue between privacy advocates against Facebook. A lot had been raising questions it if it’s true or not.

Have you noticed that most of the time the ads that Facebook is showing you seems to be so accurate based on your interest even when you just recently mentioned it? What is even more concerning is that, you never even used or logged on to Facebook. Yet, somehow Facebook was able to show you with ads relating to your query.

For instance, you were currently having a private conversation with a colleague about traveling. And when you open Facebook, suddenly, your news feed got suddenly bombarded with ads relating to travel! How is that possible?

Facebook said, they are not listening to your calls nor private conversations, because if they did, it would violate your privacy.

Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information — not what you’re talking out loud about.

We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.

In June 2016, Kelli Burns, a mass communication professor, reported as saying that Facebook is listening to user conversations to better target ads. And, Jamie Court, President of Los Angeles-based consumer watchdog said that yes, Facebook is in fact, eavesdropping on you. It’s just in a different way.

Go to this page to learn more about Facebook’s Data Policy.

How did they do this?

This is all done by scraping all related information on you through your friends or colleagues that Facebook has access and through other means.

Facebook’s AI engine is so good at predicting user behaviour by analysing all possibilities (demographics, location, activities outside facebook, including friends and colleagues online behaviour). In fact, once Facebook is installed on your device, it already has the capability of collecting your data and, following you even if you’re not using the app itself!

Heck, Facebook even collects your personal data that’s publicly available even if you never signed up to them! Some privacy advocates even complained about this stating that Facebook violates their privacy because it collected their data without permission.

The catch

Tech industry veteran Phil Lieberman said, the Facebook AI engine can determine intent from textual and visual material you provide.

That is how intelligent Facebook’s AI nowadays. But not just Facebook, platforms like Google do this too! These giants make money out of your personal data by collecting them and then selling them to their advertisers.

Facebook is no longer just a social media platform. It is also a huge data collection platform for targeted advertising.

And just in case you’re unaware, Facebook also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Great! More resources for collecting your online behaviour.

So, the question is, can you stop it? Is there anything you can do to prevent this?

Unfortunately, there is none. But there are measures you can do to minimise it.

Facebook has a privacy setting to change how it displays ads. Simply logon to Facebook and go to settings, then find the Ads section.

You can also turn off Face recognition settings to prevent Facebook from automatically tagging you on your uploaded photos, and even photos uploaded by your colleagues.

Remove all connected apps and websites that are no longer being used under the Apps and websites section.

Stay private and secure!

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