Do our mobile phones listen to us?

I was out in my car with my wife on Friday night and Say Hello, Wave Goodbye came on the radio so I was singing it very enthusiastically. Not a song you hear too often and not a song that I ever play on my phone. Yet when I woke the next morning and had a look on Facebook this was there at the top of my feed.

A few weeks ago I was discussing the possibility of getting a greenhouse with my wife, a short time later that was an advert on Facebook for greenhouses.




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I hate to be a conspiracy theorist, but I absolutely believe that this sort of stuff definitely goes on. There are just too many instances like the ones you describe above to be a coincidence. We already know it happens with online shopping etc - adverts pop up for things you've recently googled - so why wouldn't that stretch to a device most people keep next to them almost 24/7?

And as for Alexa - don't expect to have any secrets if you have one of those.


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Same for me on Facebook. Was talking about tumble dryers, never searched for one prior on any platform, next time I logged into Facebook the first advert was for tumble dryers. 🙄

Same thing then happened a while later when a conversation about laser eye surgery cropped up.
I think if you search for something on Google you know pretty well that it is being used for targeted adverts but to me it seems very sinister that your phone might actually listen to you and use that too. It's a bit too invasive.


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Let's all carry out experiments by repeating utterly random product names out loud at regular intervals and then seeing if they crop up again later. Easy peasy :cool:


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Social media 100% listen. Came off everything except what’s app. Annoys me they’re owned by the facebooks - probably listens too.

Jonny Ingbar

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Don't the voice assistants have an open mic and listen to everything passively? I was under the impression they did?


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Yes they do.

They even read your 'encrypted' whatsapp messages.

I remember talking about a holiday to Greece to a mate...and within 1 hour I had an email off one of the travel agents with holiday deals.

It's happened a few times...definitely not a coincidence.


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Don't the voice assistants have an open mic and listen to everything passively? I was under the impression they did?
Yes you should switch Siri off if you don’t want to be listened to, I also removed Facebook from my phone and refused other apps access to the microphone.


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The totally listen to you. I sometimes use a blackberry key2 phone. It has a security app that tells you how often other app access your phones hardware. you'd be amazed at the amount of times the facebook app accesses your microphone and sms


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People tend to think like they did 30 years ago that they can have a private world but your phone is really a computer with voice and a camera, all internet enabled.

Many businesses see you as a walking wallet that needs to be tapped into, particularly the internet platforms such as Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon and their offshoots Whats App/Instagram/YouTube etc. They sell information about you and your contacts to third parties such as retailers. They pick up this information from how you use your phone/pc/tablet etc, where you use it, what you say and how you even look. Because otheres know more about you than yourself, the value of these persoanl details businesses has soared as people are connected more and more. It would not surprise me if over 50% of the UK population say they feel naked without their phone. If you try and ignore new technology life is made very difficult for you and you can be easily marginalised.


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Just gone into the app settings for my phone and sure enough there is an option enabled to allow FB to use my microphone and camera. just disabled them. I've had this before where I've talked about products and suddenly seeing ads for them.


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By default your microphone is allowed to listen. You need to physically deny it access to apps like facebook etc...

I use Signal as my message encrypts your messages unlike WhatsApp

Also watch the Netflix film - The Social Dilema, which gives a very good explanation of targeted advertising and explains how that works

Welcome to your very own Truman Show


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I’ve been saying this for as long as I can remember. People said I was crackers when I suggested it. By way of proof I initiated a conversation about umbrellas with a colleague at work. He told me that when he got home all the tailored advertising on his phone was for umbrellas.