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Facebook denies listening to user conversations

The social networking giant Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has denied allegations of listening to user’s mobile conversations to serve more targeted ads.

All of it started with a mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, Kelli Burns who first accused Facebook of possibly listening to her conversations on mobile. However, the professor couldn’t offer any substantial proof to back her claims.

The fact that Facebook’s smartphone app does require access to the handset’s microphone is what led the suspicion. Facebook, on its part, clarified it does tap into the microphone, but that’s only after it has been explicitly authorised to do so. Such a situation arises while making a video post or when the user opts to include audio to be part of his/her Facebook status update.

These apart, Facebook said they are not eavesdropping on its user’s conversations.

“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed,” the company said. “We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.”

Unfortunately, not everyone seems convinced with Facebook’s clarification on this. For instance, one particular tweet made by @laurenshanahan9 said her suspicion grew after things or people she never searched for started to appear on her timeline. The tweet was posted on June 23, 2015, while the controversy itself is raging since 2014 when Facebook first sought permission to access mic for its smartphone app.


Worth mentioning, Facebook is introducing some significant changes to its news feeds with the incorporation of Artificial Intelligence based DeepText technique that aims to keep a tab on every move user’s make on its social media site.

The renewed push to increase ads by the company has made users suspect what measures Facebook might adopt to increase its share of online advertising vis-a-vis global leader Google.

It remains to be seen if the flames dose off at this or it continues to burn, as it has been over the past few years.