Facebook conversation eavesdropping

Facebook is listening to you. No, not in a nice way. Facebook is actually listening to what you say in conversations.

A few days ago I was talking to my wife about a Uniworld Cruise. We discussed the destinations and options for about an hour. Now, I have never interacted with Uniworld. I have never liked their page or commented on anything related to Uniworld. I have absolutely no association with Uniworld.

About an hour after our discussion I was looking at my Facebook newsfeed, and guess what I saw? A Uniworld sponsored advert. Is this just coincidence?

I’m no conspiracy theorist so I quickly forgot about it, writing it off to coincidence. Today, my brother and I have a brief discussion about email and Google’s G-suite product. Approximately 30 minutes later I’m checking my newsfeed and what do I see? A G-suite sponsored advert.

This is not a coincidence. With Facebook’s AI it will be very easy for them to eavesdrop on conversations through your phones microphone and then interpret what they heard. It will be easy to identify keywords that came up in the conversation and then to link those keywords with sponsored ads.

This is the holy grail for any advertiser. Identifying potential customers while they are in the process of thinking and making decisions. Influencing them at this point will yield a much higher click-through rate than traditional online marketing.

With Facebook’s privacy policies under immense scrutiny after the Cambridge Analytica incident, this has the potential to explode into a massive public relations disaster for Facebook.

I concede that the above is certainly not conclusive evidence of nefarious practises, but for me the coincidence is just too much.

I am convinced that Facebook is eavesdropping on phone users through the Facebook App. I won’t be surprised if Google does it as well.

We need to get to the bottom of this. It’s profoundly disturbing.


Marthinus Strydom

Marthinus is a venture capitalist and private equity investor.

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