Is Facebook Spying On Your Conversations?


For the last 6 months or so, we’ve had an overwhelming amount of people ask us the same question: “Is Facebook spying on my conversations?”.  The answer to this question is most certainly, yes.  As a digital marketing agency who spends countless hours running Facebook Advertising campaigns, we are ever-familiar with the criteria that Facebook uses to target you, and we have come to the conclusion that Facebook is indeed spying on your conversations.


Why Would Facebook Want to Spy on Me?

Facebook wants to spy on you in order to target you for advertising purposes. The misconception is that Facebook is listening to your conversations in order to find out why your girlfriend is mad at you, or to see how much trash you talk about your best friend.  The sole reason that Facebook is listening to your conversations is to better target you for ads, plain and simple.


How Does Facebook Spy on Me?

Facebook can only spy on you through your mobile phone and mobile devices. When you install the Facebook App from the App Store and open the app for the first time, you’ll be prompted to allow Facebook to access your photos, your camera, and your microphone. 99% of users will just click “agree” and move on to using the app, without realizing what they’ve just done. What they’ve just done is allow Facebook to access your microphone and listen in on your conversations from your phone. This isn’t restrictive to the conversations you have while on the phone, but also conversations that happen in the room you’re in while your phone is in your pocket.


From this point, Facebook will begin listening and monitoring your conversations, looking for specific keywords and keyword phrases. These keywords and keyword phrases that Facebook detects will place your device in a segment of Facebook’s audience selection for advertisers to use to target you with ads. You’ll likely see ads for products that relate to conversations you’ve had for 14 to 90 days, depending on how long Facebook keeps you as a selected target.


In a nutshell, if you start talking about keywords (near your phone) of things you don’t shop for or need, such as cat food repetitively, then you’ll begin to see ads for cat food on Facebook. This is because Facebook was listening to your conversation, and has triggered you as a potential buyer of cat food.



How Do I Stop Facebook From Listening to My Conversations?

If you decide that you don’t want Facebook to listen your conversations, then there is a way to opt out. All you need to do is go into your mobile device settings (this will be different from device to device), go to your Facebook App settings, and then remove Facebook’s access to your microphone. Once you remove the microphone access to Facebook, you won’t be getting targeted with conversation based ads any longer. However, you’ll still be targeted for conversations ads for up to 90 days for keywords you’ve said in conversation prior to removing microphone access.


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