Facebook Refutes Rumors Listening In Via Microphone To Target Ads

Posted: Jun 5 2016, 2:01am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 5 2016, 7:52pm CDT, in News | Technology News


Facebook Refutes Rumors Listening In Via Microphone To Target Ads
Credit: Facebook

When a company has to issue a statement in response to a rumor, things get out of hand.

Usually it is best practice for companies to not respond to rumors in any way. The leader in that way of handling rumors is Apple. The company is even believed to actively manage the rumors by intentionally leaking details. This is the high art of rumor marketing. Facebook had to issue a statement in response to a rumor that spread rapidly.

Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, triggered the rumor suggesting that the Facebook app is actively listening to what users are saying to serve relevant ads according to The Independent. The Facebook app has a feature to use the microphone identify a song that plays on the smartphone or in the background.

Facebook has Shazam functionality built-in. If you are surprised by that, you are not alone. I never heard about that feature introduced 2 years. ago. The Facebook app therefore has theoretically the ability to listen to you while using it. You have to grant the app access to the microphone as usual. In the case of the Shazam like feature, you have to enable it in the settings.

The whole discussion about what Facebook is doing with the microphone got so big that Facebook issued this statement: "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."

Facebook's statement continues with "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."

Conspiracy believers will not be satisfied by this and will keep on kicking the tires on that rumor. Some marketers might though already be working on an ad targeting system based on what people say for apps that have access to the microphone and display banners. To be safe don't give apps access to your microphone and video camera unless necessary for the apps functionality.

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/2" rel="author">Luigi Lugmayr</a>
Luigi Lugmayr () is the founding chief Editor of I4U News and brings over 15 years experience in the technology field to the ever evolving and exciting world of gadgets. He started I4U News back in 2000 and evolved it into vibrant technology magazine.
Luigi can be contacted directly at ml@i4u.com.




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