Google listening to conversations: Fact or Fiction
Does Google and Facebook listen in and record conversations and audio even when they’re not open? If you worry that your smartphone might be listening in to your conversations, you’re not alone.
After Facebook was accused of this practice back in the summer, it released a short denial saying “Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed…. We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.”
“When you’re using a free service, you’re paying for it with your information, but the trade-off we’re making is really unclear to most people,” says De Mooy. “The internet that I see is vastly different than the internet you see. The content we see reflects the data that has been collected on us.”
Here is a live test using Google chrome on a Windows 10 PC to discover whether microphones appear to be recording even when browser is turned off in order to better target advertisements. As pointed out in the comments, there are too many flaws in the methodology to draw any conclusions (for instance I am live streaming directly to YouTube which of course necessitates recording my microphone the whole time).
If you doubt that, and you’re a user of Google services, take a minute and visit this link. If you’re logged into your Google account, it will show all your activity across Google’s services, from Chrome and Search to Android and YouTube. Tap Filter by date & product at the top, choose Voice & Audio, and then hit Search. If you’ve ever used voice search on Google, you’ll see a list of audio recordings that you can play back and listen to right now.