Facebook has developed a reputation for doing anything it can to gather your info. That’s why conspiracy theories — like the one that alleges the site is listening to your conversations via your smartphone microphone — are so prevalent. However, a Facebook executive recently came out on Twitter to emphatically deny the practice.
The theory holds that Facebook is eavesdropping on our conversations in order to glean information about us that it can then use to target super-relevant advertising. PJ Vogt, the host of technology podcast Reply All, put out an open question on Twitter asking his followers to call his show if they believed Facebook used phone mics to spy on them. He received many interesting responses, including one from a user who claimed a coworker received a Facebook ad saying “So you popped the question!” minutes after he proposed. However, Vogt also received a response from a Facebook executive himself.
“I run ads product at Facebook. We don’t — and have never — used your microphone for ads. Just not true,” said Rob Goldman, Facebook’s Vice President of Ads.
Beyond anecdotal evidence, there has never been any actual proof that Facebook is listening in on users. Experts say that creepy incidents like the proposal story can be attributed to Facebook observing your online behavior and search patterns. However, the fact that so many people believe Facebook is spying on them is a testament to how little users trust it.