Facebook really is spying on you – just not through your phone’s mic

“‘Can I try the Cole Haans in a size 8?’ Later that night on Facebook: An advertisement for Cole Haan pumps,” Joanna Stern reports for The Wall Street Journal. “OK, maybe a coincidence.”

“‘What’s the best high-tech scale?’ my wife asks aloud. Five minutes later on Instagram: An ad for scales,” Stern reports. “Wait, are they listening?”

“‘Get the little red Sudafed pills,’ my mom says after I sneeze. That afternoon: An advertisement for Sudafed PE,” Stern reports. “Yep, they’ve even wiretapped my bodily functions.”

“A conspiracy theory has spread among Facebook and Instagram users: The company is tapping our microphones to target ads. It’s not,” Stern reports. “‘Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed,’ says Facebook.”

“I contacted former Facebook employees and various advertising technology experts, who all cited technical and legal reasons audio snooping isn’t possible,” Stern reports. ‘Uploading and scanning that much audio data “would strain even the resources of the NSA,’ says former Facebook ad-targeting product manager Antonio Garcia Martinez. “I believe them, but for another reason: Facebook is now so good at watching what we do online — and even offline, wandering around the physical world — it doesn’t need to hear us. After digging into the various bits of info Facebook and its advertisers collect and the bits I’ve actually handed over myself, I can now explain why I got each of those eerily relevant ads.”

Stern reports, “Short of deleting Facebook and living in a bunker, there isn’t anything you can do to stop this entirely.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: How about you delete Facebook (and Google apps) and don’t live in a bunker instead?

If you want to share photos and videos with friends, text them using Apple’s end-to-end encrypted iMessage service. You need to control your social networking, not cede it to a gatekeeper like Facebook. – MacDailyNews, March 19, 2018

Someday, hopefully sooner than later, people will look back at the days of the Google/Facebook scourge and shake their heads over what was allowed to happen. — MacDailyNews, August 21, 2018

Facebook says Russian firms ‘scraped’ data, including users’ photos to build facial recognition profiles for Russian government – October 15, 2018
FBI investigating Facebook security breach where attackers accessed 30 million users’ personal information – October 12, 2018
Google exposed user data, did not disclose to public fearing repercussions – October 10, 2018
After trying and failing to hide the issue, Alphabet pulls plug on Google+ after bug exposes data from up to 500,000 users – October 8, 2018
Facebook discovers security breach affecting 50 million users – September 28, 2018
Facebook is giving advertisers access to users’ shadow contact information – September 27, 2018
42% of U.S. users have ‘taken a break’ from Facebook; 28% have deleted the Facebook app in the past year – September 5, 2018
Researchers find Google harvests more data from Android – and Apple iOS – users than most people think – August 21, 2018
Google hit with lawsuit accusing them of tracking phone users regardless of privacy settings – August 20, 2018
Google tracks users movements even when explicitly told not to – Associated Press – August 13, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg loses $16 billion in record Facebook fall – July 26, 2018
Facebook stock plunges as users vanish – July 25, 2018
Apple highlights user privacy as Facebook exec steps down – June 14, 2018
The 18 things you may not realize Facebook knows about you: Firm reveals the extent of its spying in a 454-page document to U.S. Congress – June 12, 2018
Facebook confirms sharing users’ personal data with Chinese companies – June 6, 2018
Apple’s macOS Mojave removes integration with third-party internet accounts like Facebook – June 6, 2018
Apple borks Facebook’s pervasive personal data-harvesting operation – June 5, 2018
Apple requested ‘zero’ personal data in deals with Facebook – CEO Tim Cook – June 5, 2018
Facebook CEO blasts Apple’s latest privacy protections as ‘cute virtue signaling’ – June 5, 2018


  1. And isn’t this Google?

    I was looking at new computer cases yesterday and my MDN ads are full of computer cases and professional workstations and stuff. Does that mean that MDN is spying on me? No.

  2. This page right here has far more intrusive ads and performance interference than any neighborhood I ever visit, including Facebook, even AOL. Really, what a mess this is! Clean up your own backyard- this is the best you can do here?….

  3. I’ve never been on any social media except LinkedIn. That said, I have had several instances where I was talking to somebody about an item and within a day or so later, got ads for these items.

    Somehow, some apps or app on my iphone is listening.

    Wish there was a way to send a nasty virus to the listener…

  4. You did need a bunker:

    Any friends, colleagues etc that post a photo of you to “social media” (e.g. the Collective) and tag it with your name have given FB it’s needed fill.
    Anytime you see one of those little FB badges on a web page, it is being used to track you ***even though you are not a FB user ***. You need to use Safari, Ghostery, and modifications to your hosts file to block that BS.
    If you have a fixed IP address, you are also screwed. And if you aren’t using Safari, your browser fingerprint is being used to track you.

    The US seriously needs a right to privacy from the FB, Google/Doubleclick and all these other companies that are compiling dossiers of our online (and offline) activities. If someone followed you around Target with a clipboard and wrote down every product you looked at, picked up, put down, bought etc. you’d punch them in the face. But call it a “free FB account” and somehow it’s OK?

    The irony here is that Amazon will make a fortune selling us tinfoil hats.

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