Shhh, Twitter & Facebook Can Hear You

kid listening with cup as facebook and twitter

I’m certain most people are aware and just don’t care, but it’s something I feel needs to be talked about more. Twitter and Facebook listening to your real life, private conversations!

Last week, my wife Amy was talking to our neighbor about Vertigo. Apparently, her daughter has it and was laid up for a while because of it. Amy and I have never discussed vertigo, and she swears she’s never typed it, or searched for it using her iPhone. But amazingly, the days following this conversation with the neighbor, she began to see ads on her Facebook wall about Vertigo!

Amy has started watching the FoodNetwork (alot). Usually when I come home it’s on when I’m unwinding in my favorite chair.  While scrolling through twitter one day, I come to find my timeline flooded with Food ads! I thought nothing of it at the time. But, yesterday, I was in a meeting with a few entrepreneurs looking for feedback and advice on the next steps of their (very promising) app. My phone was by my side when I suggested that instead of switching from Stripe to Paypal, they start with Braintree, as they have a great offer for $50K of free processing. Low and behold, this morning on my Twitter timeline, an ad for Braintree.


I’ve never searched for Braintree, nor texted or tweeted it. So, how does Twitter know to show this ad? Scary, isn’t it?

Now, of course I authorized Twitter to use my mic when they asked for permission, but I didn’t give them permission to listen in on my conversations. Of course I agreed to the terms and conditions of their app, but never did I imagine they would be eavesdropping in on everything I say. Regardless of what permissions were given or what T&C I agreed to, this is an invasion of privacy.

Now, what am I going to do about it? Nothing. I’ll just post this so that others that mysteriously see ads that are relevant to last night’s conversations know that Twitter and FB are listening to you. I imagine this post will likely be seen by 400-500, as usual. All of which would not care enough to do anything, or to raise concerns with Twitter or FB, but you have the right to know. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Who knows how much they listen. Who knows what data they collect. But I do know, they are making a shit load of money off of their users. What do the users get in return? Spied on. Got it.