Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has reported that it does not spy on its users in response to rumors that it uses handset microphones to spy on conversations.
The rumors were fueled by an article that was published by The Independent. The article stated that Kelli Burns, a USF Mass Communications professor discovered that the social network company had been serving her ads that were related to content that he had discussed when her handset was nearby. The rumors spread like wildfire on the Facebook social network and the firm finally responded.
The firm released a statement saying that it does not listen in to conversations to determine the type of news feeds and ads that will be served to users. It further added that businesses target ads based on user interests and other democratic factors. This means that users often receive ads on a certain topic or subject if they express interest through their profile and searches.
Facebook, however, confirmed that microphone access only takes place when activated in the permission settings in the app. The feature is used when users are engaging in audio and video features when making updates to their profile. It is, therefore, important for users to check on the settings whether the microphone feature has been active. The company therefore only listens in through the microphone when there are TV shows or music playing in the background only when users are updating their status. It is also important to note that this only happens when the microphone feature is on. Users have the option to turn off the feature if they feel that it violates their privacy.
The option for managing the microphone feature is available on Facebook apps for both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Android. The recent rumors are a testament that most people do not fully understand the meaning of permissions as far as apps are concerned. People therefore complain about user privacy when they do not fully understand the measures put in place.