Facebook And Google Have Been Using Your Phone To Secretly Listen To Whatever You Say

Here's how to stop them from doing so in future.

Cover image via BGR

While Facebook has been listening to users of its mobile apps since the year 2014, the claim resurfaces every now and then only to get "shut down", as people at The Verge like to put it, by Zuck's crew

Most recently, this article from The Independent cited Kelli Burns, a mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, claiming that Facebook could be listening in on people's conversations all of the time.

Although, the mass communication professor later denied saying she believes Facebook is listening to people. ... "I never made the claim that [it] is happening, or that my one experiment...was in any way proof. ... I never said...Facebook can hear you."

Responding to the claims, Facebook, obviously, claimed that it only accesses a user's microphone, if they've given it permission, under very specific circumstances.

The social networking giant published a blog post, dismissing the claims outright.

Image via Gizmodo/Getty

However, people who have concerns about their privacy are still suspicious. And the world wide web is filled with people suspecting what they speak about out loud is being listened on in by Facebook.

Now, while Facebook is quick to rubbish these people and their suspicious concerns as "conspiracy theories", in an experiment performed by the BBC, they created an app that could listen in to conversations for prolonged periods without draining the phone's battery, effectively turning the smartphones into eavesdropping devices.

"The whole thing took a couple of days to build," writes Zoe Kleinman in his BBC News piece, detailing how a device could "listen in" at will without it being obvious.

However, when they asked Facebook and Google, both denied that they would use such a capability to tailor adverts and content for users.

Google, too, has been quietly recording your voice, keeping an audio log of all that you ask its voice search function, "OK Google"

In a reported published by The Guardian in October last year, the UK digital daily pointed out how whether you're asking directions or drunkenly swearing, Google never forgets, recording everything you've ever said to it. However, you're the only one who can listen to them, and can even delete the recordings.

Image via Quartz

But there's a way to stop Facebook from listening to what you say using your phone and delete the recordings from Google's archive

For Facebook

You will have to revoke Facebook's access to your microphone. Here's how:

On Android Marshmallow: Go to Settings app > Swipe to "Personal" > Tap "Privacy and safety" > Tap "App permissions" > Then tap "Microphone" > Switch the slider to OFF within Facebook.

On iOS 9: Go to Settings app > Scroll down to "Facebook", tap it > Then tap on "Settings" > Turn off the slider to switch "Microphone" to off.

For Google

You will have to log into first.

Click on the hamburger icon on the top left corner of the page > Go to "Voice & Audio Activity" > You can scroll through your list to see all the recordings > Click on one of the squares to select a recording to delete.

If you don't want Google to listen and record your voice, stop using the voice function.

However, as The Guardian notes, turning voice Activity off doesn't stop Google storing your recordings, but it means they get kept with an anonymous identifier, and can’t be easily linked back to your account.

In the end, know that we are living in a world where our lives are wired to the technologies we use, and we can never be too careful

Share your thoughts about the story by leaving a comment below

You may be interested in: