Facebook denies claims that it uses phone microphone to spy on people for improved mobile ad targeting

Social media behemoth Facebook has rejected claims that it may be using its mobile app to spy on user conversations through smartphone microphones in order to deliver adverts to individuals based on their exchanges.

Facebook has previously been accused of spying, but has always denied the accusations.

Back in May 2016, Professor Kelli Burns at the University of South Florida claimed that the Facebook app could potentially be monitoring its users on mobile devices via smartphone mics – all in the name of serving more relevant ads of course.

Burns said that she had noted ads on the app which were relevant to discussions she had had when close to her phone. Strange coincidence? She didn’t think so.

Facebook did reiterate that it was not targeting ads based on smartphone mic usage, but instead targets based on consumer interests and other data.

Whether people choose to believe that Facebook eavesdrops or not, the social media network has been trying to settle the record this time. A tweet by the company’s VP of Ads Rob Goldman states:

“I run ads product at Facebook. We don’t – and have never – used your microphone for ads. Just not true.”

Goldman confirmed that this also applied to Instagram.

In the wake of several privacy scandals among large social networks and advertisers, companies such as Apple have introduced new privacy options for its Safari browser that prevent cookie tracking of users. That has some serious consequences for advertisers trying to deliver targeted ads to users as well as the ad industry on the whole.

After all, targeted ads are a way of making the experience more pleasant for users. At the same time, the industry must ensure that user privacy is guaranteed at all times.