For those who came in late, The Independent reported that a communications professor from USF noticed Facebook serving ads with topics similar to stuff she had discussed near her phone.
The story spread rapidly on Facebook, which is pretty much proof that the outfit is not controlling news flow as this is exactly the sort of story you would expect it to censor.
A SpokesFacebook said: “Facebook does not use microphone audio to inform advertising or News Feed stories in any way. Businesses are able to serve relevant ads based on people’s interests and other demographic information, but not through audio collection.”
One of Facebook’s problems is that its terms of service are incomprehensible to someone without a law degree. Facebook does list a permission to use the microphone on iOS and Android, it’s only activated when a user tries to identify something like music or a TV show.
This story came out because most people are not sure what the permissions mean and think that anything listed might be in use all the time.
You can stop Facebook getting access to your microphone by disabling it. However, remember that the amount of technology and bandwidth required to listen into your life to send you adverts is high. Facebook can get that data just by monitoring what you type on Facebook, which no one seems bothered about.