Does the mobile phone listen to conversations to send me advertising? Truth or myth?

As a strategy to increase profit, Google, Facebook, and other large technology companies scour the data of their users for digital advertising.

Thus, each user receives ads targeted to their interests and preferences.

However, contrary to what most people think, these companies do not use illegal strategies to collect information, such as listening to offline conversations without consent. It is the opposite.

Often, it is the users who permit apps and other connected services to access their phone’s camera, microphone, contact list, or GPS.

Authorization is also necessary for certain features of the apps to run correctly.

For example, by authorizing Instagram to use the microphone, the videos captured by the network come out without audio. This is how you had access to your microphone, even for other situations.

Several cybercrime tools have already been discovered that unknown to the mobile phone owner, snap photos, track the device’s location, and even trigger, audio recording.

Do apps really use the phone’s microphone to listen to their owners’ conversations?

Researchers from the Programming field at Northeastern University (Boston), tested, for a year, 17,000 most popular Android applications, including those of the Meta group: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

They also analyzed whether these services sent information to the social network.

The conclusion

There were no audio leaks. Not a single app activated the microphone to record or send audio without the user’s permission.

To confirm this point, the researchers used ten mobile phones equipped with a program that automated human interactions. It played back conversations about consumer preferences so that the phones’ microphones picked them up. At the end of the study, they found no evidence that the recordings were made.

Retargeting: a chave da publicidade


There is only one certainty when you are online: some company will try to find out what you are doing. In other words, when you like a product or service on the internet, advertising about those services or products will start chasing you on different online platforms. Retargeting is a tool widely used by digital advertising to generate sales of the products or services in which you have already shown interest.

When you click on something that is connected to this technology, you leave a trail of your digital identity tied to that product.

This tracking happens with great frequency: every time you enter a website, make a purchase, create a user account, like a photo of kittens, drive using GPS, comment on a photo of a friend, enter an establishment and access wi-fi, pay a bill online. It’s all information you’re transmitting.

The Northeastern University researchers also say that their research is not a definitive answer on the subject, and they only rule out the possibility that the microphone on mobile phones actively listens to what is spoken to target advertising.

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