iPhone listening

Everyone has an “I think my phone is listening” story. Sandrarose.com readers often report seeing advertisements pop up online after they say certain phrases in private conversations. It’s not a coincidence.

VICE magazine writer Sam Nichols conducted an experiment that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that his iPhone is listening to his private conversations.

A cybersecurity expert confirmed his suspicions, saying smartphones do collect information about what we say. But he said consumers shouldn’t be concerned because the data is only being sold to advertisers — not to your local law enforcement or the FBI.

But he admitted there’s no way to know if that’s true or not.

Here’s what Nichols had to say about his experiment:

With this in mind, I decided to try an experiment. Twice a day for five days, I tried saying a bunch of phrases that could theoretically be used as triggers. Phrases like I’m thinking about going back to uni and I need some cheap shirts for work. Then I carefully monitored the sponsored posts on Facebook for any changes.

The changes came literally overnight. Suddenly I was being told mid-semester courses at various universities, and how certain brands were offering cheap clothing. A private conversation with a friend about how I’d run out of data led to an ad about cheap 20 GB data plans. And although they were all good deals, the whole thing was eye-opening and utterly terrifying.

Cybersecurity experts suggest locating the PERMISSIONS tab in your phone’s settings and deny microphone access to ALL apps. You should not allow apps access to the microphone except on a case-by-case basis.

You should also remove the Facebook app since Facebook is the worst offender.

Mark Zuckerberg

FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg earns billions of dollars from selling your conversations and personal data to third parties.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Facebook admitted selling your data to 60 mobile companies including four data firms in China — one of which is listed as a security threat to the United States.

On Monday, two Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal, fired off a letter to Zuckerberg demanding answers.

“New revelations that Facebook provided access to users’ personal information, including religion, political preferences, and relationship status, to dozens of mobile device manufacturers without users’ explicit consent are deeply concerning,” they said in a letter.

Stock photo by JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images