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How to stop Facebook from spying on you while you’re on your phone

How to stop Facebook from spying on you while you’re on your phone
Alex Phippen, FamilyShare OLD

Facebook rules the world, true. But most of the time we’re OK with this. That is, until the social media platform gets a little too nosey — which seems to be happening more and more each day.

The most recent privacy buzz is Facebook’s ability to listen to people’s conversations in order to bring them more relevant ads. One expert has claimed this happens when a user gives Facebook access to their phone’s microphone (which we all do when recording a video).

In 2014, a new Facebook update allowed users to begin including audio in their posts. This opt-in music identification feature, similar to the Shazam app, lets Facebook listen to the background noise around you while you update your status. It then identifies and includes whatever song you were listening to as part of your post.

Sounds cool, right? Maybe not so much. As of late, some very unnerving questions have been brought up. One such inquiry asks what happens to the extra audio picked up while you type your status update? What does Facebook do with that information? Is it just coincidence that you suddenly see an ad for a new pair of shoes that you and your friend were just talking about?

These conversations have sparked so much controversy that Facebook put out a blog post last week explaining itself. According to the post,

“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information — not what you’re talking out loud about.”

Evidence is there to support both sides, but ultimately it’s up to each individual to protect their privacy when using digital media. Here are some simple steps from qz.com to disable Facebook’s access to your device’s microphone.

On iPhone (iOS 9)

  1. Go to the Settings app
  2. Scroll down to Facebook, tap it
  3. Tap “Settings”
  4. Turn off the slider for Microphone (slider should be grey instead of green)

On Android (Marshmallow)

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Swipe over to “Personal”
  3. Tap “Privacy and safety”
  4. Tap “App permissions”
  5. Tap “Microphone”
  6. Find Facebook, and turn the slider to OFF

What are your thoughts? Have you noticed anything strange when using these features? Comment below, and let’s all help protect each other and our right to privacy.

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