Is Facebook listening to your physical conversations?

Facebook has denied allegations that it listens to you phone's microphones to deliver targeted advertisements.

Facebook has published a blog post in response to reports that it listens to private conversations to send advertisements.

"Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true," said Facebook in a blog post. " We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about."

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Facebook was forced to respond after The Independent published a story about a professor at the University of South Florida who tested a feature in Facebook that uses microphones in phones to listen to nearby conversations. Kelly Burns, the professor in question, said that a tool in Facebook which works with microphones is being used by Facebook to listen to conversations and to target relevant advertising.

Professor Burns came to the conclusion after giving the tool a test. She discussed about certain things by placing her phone nearby and found that the site showed up advertisements related to what she was talking about. She added that she isn't convinced about Facebook  doing it but if it turns out that Facebook did listen to conversations, she wouldn't be surprised. Facebook admittedly runs tools and features which can listen to TV shows and songs that its users enjoy but claims that such features are strictly opt-ins an do not track users who do not wish to participate.

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Targeted advertisements are a major source of revenue for Facebook. In the first quarter of 2016, the social networking giant's revenue from mobile ads alone jumped 57 per cent from $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion. The company is also set to introduce a number of new bots in its Messenger service that will let businesses send you new offers and deals via messages.

Even though Facebook Messenger will continue to run as a private messaging service, the new bots will let you use the platform to buy products, interact with companies and search for a range of offers. At the same time, if such companies feel that you haven't bought their products in a while or you aren't interacting with them regularly enough, they will be able to send you messages which will highlight new deals and products on offer.

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