Published: Sun, July 08, 2018
Electronics | By Shannon Stone

Research shows Facebook (probably) isn’t listening through your phone

Research shows Facebook (probably) isn’t listening through your phone

Now, a fresh research report has tried to debunk this theory. Apart from the regular caller id stuff, this app provided users with the extra benefit of being able to see their Facebook contacts in their Hello app, so that they could find contacts for calling even if the said contacts weren't saved in the phone memory or cloud memory. But don't get too happy. Their primary focus was to check whether any media files were being sent to the third party.

Scientists have found no evidence that the application unexpectedly activates the microphone or sends audio if it is not offered. Of course, no app developer would be dumb, or arrogant, enough to admit this, so a team at Northeastern University spent a year downloading and testing thousands of apps to see just what information they sent out.

While it is still not certain if phones listen to your conversations, it is now clear that they might be creepily looking through your phone activity to understand which ads third parties must target at you.

While some apps belonged to Facebook, around 8,000 others were capable of sending information to the social networking giant. Over 9,000 apps under scrutiny had permission to access the phone's camera and microphone.

However, they found something equally risky.

So, a team of scientists finally made a decision to run an experiment to uncover the real truth, researchers from the Northeastern University ran a year-long research that closely monitored more than 17,000 android applications, they also included many apps from Facebook and around 8000 of these apps were sending back user data to the social networking company. One such example listed was GoPuff - an app that delivers food at odd hours. "But they did find that some apps were sending screen recordings and screenshots to third parties", according to Business Insider. Users should also read through privacy policies as often as they can for sneaky statements about what data is gathered. Apart from this, this app also recorded the customer's postal code which he submitted for the order. However, this is not a surprising fact for Appsee as it peddled itself as capable of capturing device screens. However, in this case, both are partly fault.

In 2014, Facebook bought the fitness app Moves, which tracks users daily activity, such as walking, cycling and running. "We're working closely with them to help ensure developers appropriately communicate the SDK's functionality with their apps' end-users".

People have been concerned that their phones have been physically watching them and eavesdropping on their conversation for years, and much has changed to stop that from happening.

In short, the safest thing a phone owner can do is limit the number of third-party apps that can access their microphone.

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