The Virtual Déjà vu: Facebook denies listening to users’ conversations

Social networking site, Facebook has denied that the website uses a device’s microphone to listen in on what users are saying and then supply the information to relevant ads.

Facebook denies listening to users conversations
Never used your microphones for ads, says Facebook executive

Facebook has refused to accept charges that they access a device’s microphone to listen to users’ conversations. The charges accuse the network of supplying the information to advertising companies.

The social media giant’s vice-president of ads, Rob Goldman denied the charges in a tweet to PJ Vogt. Vogt is the presenter of a popular tech podcast called “Reply All”.

The charges arose after a lot of people stated that they seemed to receive advertisements related to recent real-life conversations.

Piqued by the sheer number of people experiencing this digital déjà vu, Vogt asked for details of the occasions.

In his response to Vogt’s query, Mr. Goldman stated, “I run ads product at Facebook. We don’t- and have never-used your microphone for ads.” Mr. Goldman added that the idea was just “not true”.

When asked by a Twitter user if Facebook had extended this courtesy to Instagram he responded affirmatively.

PJ Vogt however received hundreds of responses to his original tweet. Many included uncanny coincidences such as a man who received an advertisement for marriage minutes after he proposed.

Facebook was quick to deny all allegations of its snooping. The company stated that it shows ads based on people’s interests and relevant profile information.

It added that it does not take into account what people are “talking out loud” about.

However, the sheer volume of the coincidences has left quite a few suspicious. One theory states that the entire situation is nothing more than pure coincidence. Perhaps an ad had gone unnoticed before because it did not seem relevant then, but is now.

This is a theory endorsed by a mathematics professor from the Imperial College London. Professor David Hand put forth his theory during a smartphone discussion with BBC in 2016.

He said, “If you take something that has a tiny chance of occurring and give it enough opportunities to occur, it inevitably will happen”.

The same theory may hold true where Facebook’s recent advertising abilities are concerned.

However, whether Facebook has gone the Big Brother way or not, is something that only time will tell.