Does your phone listen and target you with ads?

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Have you ever felt that your phone or other smart device is listening to what you are saying? You may have seen ads for the products you talked about and swore you never searched for them on Google.

Christy Burnett is pretty sure her iPhone is listening.

“One day my son came up to me and said,‘ Mom, I want a Scorpio Rex birthday, ’” she said.

“And what?” She thought. So she decided to take a look.

“I am preparing to enter the search [field] “Scorpio Rex,” she said. – But before I do, he [my son] immediately looks at my screen and says, “Mom, that’s right!”

Of course, there was an ad on her phone a Jurassic toy he wanted.

“But I didn’t even score anything,” Burnett said.

Your phone? Maybe. Alexa? Probably.

So her phone was tapped, or her 6-year-old was looking for a toy on some other device? Many would say that it is difficult to learn from the information we have.

Researchers from the universities of California, Washington and the Northeast this spring released a combined study which claims that Alexa Amazon is definitely listening and targeting you through advertising.

After the release of the study, Amazon told The Verge that it targets you through “interest-based advertising based on your Alexa requests” that PCMag Says Chandra Steele it’s more than they’ve ever said before.

“Amazon didn’t want to admit it, but once these researchers came forward, they had to,” Steele said. “And these ads are watching you online.”

Are Amazon, Apple, Google and others listening to your casual conversations? An EW Scripps employee in Cincinnati was asked to share her favorite makeup.

“I’m following Cover Girl and Cover Pop on Instagram,” she announced loudly in front of her phone. “And I like Lash Blast mascara,” she added.

Just in case her phone missed it, she added, “I’m a real fan of Cover Girl!”

Five minutes later, she checked out her social media feeds and found one related ad on her Instagram feed.

“There’s a Color Pop mask down here,” she said, describing an advertisement for one of the items she had just talked about. But it could have been based on her previous likes on Instagram.

We found no ads of the girl’s makeup from the cover, which by then the entire editorial staff knew she loved.

So is your phone listening?

Apple says it doesn’t listen to casual conversations, said on his privacy website what “privacy is a fundamental human right ”.

But internet security expert Dave Hatter Trust IT says that when your Siri voice feature is enabled, your iPhone listens for the wake-up time, just as Alexa from Amazon always listens for that wake-up time.

“If you have a smart digital assistant,” he explained, “he has to listen if he wants to help you.”

To protect yourself, Hatter offers you:

  • Turn off “Listen hello, Siri” in your iPhone’s settings so that just pressing a button wakes up the feature.
  • On your Android phone, disable its “OK Google” feature in the settings.
  • Check your phone’s microphone settings.
  • Exclude which programs can use it. You do not need a microphone for most programs.

Christy Burnett, however, suspects something is going on.

“It’s really surprising,” she said after her son’s toy appeared without any printed searches. But with some settings your phone will listen less, so you don’t spend money.


AMAZON’S STATEMENT on how it targets you through advertising:

“We do not use customer voice recordings for product recommendations. When you interact with the Amazon service through Alexa, the experience is similar to what you see on the Amazon website or in the Amazon app for that service. For example, if you play a song through Amazon Music on Alexa, you may see recommendations in the Amazon Music app for other artists you may like. Or, if you order paper towels from Amazon through Alexa, you can see recommendations for other similar products on the Amazon website. Amazon does not allow you to advertise on Alexa, except for certain skills such as music streaming services or news channels where customers are used to hearing advertising.


Don’t Spend Money “is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (” Scripps “).

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