I never believed that phones are "listening to us" but now I do....

Tawpgun

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,220
The short version is it is not a coincidence, but it wasn’t listening to your speech because that is too high bandwith an easy to detect. They know your cookies and they associate you with a huge data mining profile and then tie that in with other profiles and then actually get something that’s way way worse than a minor eavesdropping recording.

And then your brain pattern recognition kicks in and you decide it’s not just a coincidence. Which it isn’t, but it’s not actually listening to audio.
I initially thought this but I've had too many moments where it made no sense.

I was in a car, our roomates were talking about renting hot tub boats for the lake. I had never heard of them before. I have never googled them before or after. It was solely a conversation in our car.

A day or 2 later I get an ad for them on instagram. Bruh.

I understand how datamining, cookies, search history etc can be used for ads but this was spooky.

I also had a creepier one (but I think it was a coincidence) where during our monthly beer exchange a coworker gave me this beer. I literally never mentioned the beer by name (or searched it) just said "Cool thanks, this one looks great"

and I get an ad for them.
 

Dest

The Fallen
Jun 4, 2018
2,968
Work
Does anything about your web presence (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc) detail that you're an IT professional? Your job is a great piece of demographic info and a predictor for serving you relevant ads.
heck no. facebook doesn't even get used, the fuck is a linkedIn and my twitter is full of weebshit and bitching about video games
 

Orb

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,473
USA
People will tell you that phones aren’t listening. Don’t believe them.

I’ve had almost the exact same experience as you, down to CBD oil being mentioned in conversation, and then receiving an email about CBD the next day. My father, who was in the same room when the CBD comment was made, also received a CBD email.

This is absolutely real.
Talk me through the process of what you think happened here. What on your phone was listening? How did they decide to pick CBD out of the conversation? How did they get your email address? How did they associate your email address with the person who was speaking?

None of this makes sense if you break it down and think about it for like 5 seconds.
 

Hindl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,002
There is no reason for Alexa and co to send all recordings to some server if it can process it live and only send the small relevant tidbits. The whole bandwidth argument sucks.
It doesn't, because the size it's sending doesn't matter. Let's say it somehow only sends 0.01 KB of data back to the server and discards all the rest. It still needs to send that data. And any request, no matter what the size, would instantly appear if anyone was monitoring any network traffic on their phones. Which I assure you, millions of people are doing. If your phone was sending data based on listening to you, someone would've discovered it. Unless you think there's a massive conspiracy between every large tech and ad company, and they've somehow sworn all current and former employees to ever speaking out about it. Something this big would've gotten out
Yeah, there's no way that the phones aren't listening. Both my wife and I get way too many tailored ads specific to things we discuss out loud but don't search for anywhere. It is what it is. I think anyone explaining it away as something else is just trying to retain some semblance of belief that our lives have some privacy still.
The funny part about this is that you think the people denying this are doing it out of some sense of privacy and security, when they're telling you the reality is much worse. Fuck, I wish my phone was just listening to me. That's a relatively easy problem to understand and fix. The reality is that these companies have tracked every bit of activity you and everyone around you has ever done on the internet, and used that information to make a scarily advanced accurate profile of who you are as a person, what you're interested in, and what you might be interested in, even based on people you've come into contact with. And they use that data to send ads to you. Personally, that sounds far worse than just having my phone listen to me
 

killdatninja

Member
Oct 26, 2017
441
This seems pretty easy to test honestly.


Pick up a dozen phones, talk about a subject for a while, after purposefully picking a topic that isn't in anybody's history, see if everyone gets relevant ads.
It's not that easy to test... the information isn't based on just you, but the people/location around you, more specifically who you interact with.
Think of it this way, your friend (A) went to go watch a movie, and enjoyed the movie. You've never heard/seen/or even looked up the movie EVER. So you and (A) go meet up for dinner, (A) may or may not mention the movie, but for the sake of this example, lets assume (A) mentioned the movie in the conversation. The predictive AI notices that you tend to watch the same movies after shortly meeting with (A), the AI may start target ad you trailers for that movie (which have never come up before this day).
 

JetSetSoul

Member
Oct 28, 2017
948
I’ve been talking to my phone about how much I want soap for a few minutes. Now that I’m typing it I may get ads. I’d sure like to buy some soap. Either I get ads or am a crazy person, lose lose.
 

supernormal

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
696
It doesn't, because the size it's sending doesn't matter. Let's say it somehow only sends 0.01 KB of data back to the server and discards all the rest. It still needs to send that data. And any request, no matter what the size, would instantly appear if anyone was monitoring any network traffic on their phones. Which I assure you, millions of people are doing. If your phone was sending data based on listening to you, someone would've discovered it. Unless you think there's a massive conspiracy between every large tech and ad company, and they've somehow sworn all current and former employees to ever speaking out about it. Something this big would've gotten out

The funny part about this is that you think the people denying this are doing it out of some sense of privacy and security, when they're telling you the reality is much worse. Fuck, I wish my phone was just listening to me. That's a relatively easy problem to understand and fix. The reality is that these companies have tracked every bit of activity you and everyone around you has ever done on the internet, and used that information to make a scarily advanced accurate profile of who you are as a person, what you're interested in, and what you might be interested in, even based on people you've come into contact with. And they use that data to send ads to you. Personally, that sounds far worse than just having my phone listen to me
Exactly. Like putting tape over a webcam. The reality is much worse because as mentioned in some post before ads come up to stuff that you've never even said out loud but actively thought about. The algorithm picks up on behaviors that it links to these interest or that links you to certain demographics these companies are interested in advertising to. If it were just listening to stuff, you would probably be getting less effective targeted ads.
 

LL_Decitrig

Member
Oct 27, 2017
9,835
Sunderland
The funny part about this is that you think the people denying this are doing it out of some sense of privacy and security, when they're telling you the reality is much worse.
Emphasis added to the final phrase. If there's one take home I think everybody reading this should get, it's this. They don't need to listen to you, you're already blabbing and being affected by ads and by your friends who are doing the same thing. Humans are far more predictable tabbouleh they think they are, and that's part of how those mind reader acts work. The internet is a mentalist performance that lasts your entire life
 

404Ender

Member
Oct 25, 2017
199
If companies were listening to your conversations, you'd be having these creepy coincidences multiple times per day not like once in a blue moon.

I initially thought this but I've had too many moments where it made no sense.

I was in a car, our roomates were talking about renting hot tub boats for the lake. I had never heard of them before. I have never googled them before or after. It was solely a conversation in our car.

A day or 2 later I get an ad for them on instagram. Bruh.

I understand how datamining, cookies, search history etc can be used for ads but this was spooky.
Your roommates probably Googled "hot tub boats" (or maybe even ended up renting one one).

Do you use the same wi-fi as they do? Do you use your phone within the same vicinity as they do? Are you friends with them on social media?

That's why you saw the ad.

I also had a creepier one (but I think it was a coincidence) where during our monthly beer exchange a coworker gave me this beer. I literally never mentioned the beer by name (or searched it) just said "Cool thanks, this one looks great"

and I get an ad for them.
Is it a local beer? Did your coworker look up the beer? Is the beer company running a marketing campaign currently? Does your coworker use an app like "Untappd"? Did they buy it with a credit card?

Are you friends with your coworker on social media? Do you use the wi-fi (or just your phone's data) at work?

That's why you saw the ad.
 
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ckareset

Member
Feb 2, 2018
3,088
We should test this. Everyone pick a random consumer good they have never google searched and just start dropping it in conversations.
 

Nerfgun

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,536
Nova Scotia
I initially thought this but I've had too many moments where it made no sense.
None of this makes sense if you break it down and think about it for like 5 seconds.
this is the part I don't understand. "makes sense".

sometimes I'm thinking of a song and when I get into the car, the radio is playing that song right at the same spot. makes no sense!

sometimes when I hear a word for the first time that I've never heard before, I hear it all the time afterwards. NO SENSE.

it's the frequency illusion yo. powerful stuff. don't be fooled just because you are impressed by it.

thing is, what these posters are proposing is much more preposterous, the idea that somehow this has been hidden for years and no one has discovered it. and again, the weird inference that the people explaining it are not being paranoid enough, when what we're saying is they're (ad companies) doing much more privacy invasion, just not via this dumbass "lets listen to everybody everywhere forever" method.
 

Kenstar

Member
Oct 25, 2017
890
Earth
sometimes i get ads for things i never talk about and dont want
is google PUNISHING ME for being a FREETHINKER by LISTENING TO ME and sending me IRRITATING ADS for what I DONT talk about?!?!?!
btw u can keep ur elitist 'frequency illusion' and 'Algorithmys' scyens mumbo jumbo hogwash to urself I KNOW WHAT I SAW
 

Pwnz

Member
Oct 28, 2017
5,873
It’s a non-trivial amount of bandwidth that would’ve been instantly detected by white hats and sent to every tech journalist in the planet if they were actually doing this
How is it high bandwidth? Google assistant tech converts your voice to text, matches a list of keywords, filters against what you may be interested in, and sends a concise ad term to Google.

Just got down with work and I already was organizing this into user stories.
 

Tawpgun

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,220
If companies were listening to your conversations, you'd be having these creepy coincidences multiple times per day not like once in a blue moon.



Your roommates probably Googled "hot tub boats" (or maybe even ended up renting one one).

Do you use the same wi-fi as they do? Do you use your phone within the same vicinity as they do? Are you friends with them on social media?

That's why you saw the ad.



Is it a local beer? Did your coworker look up the beer? Is the beer company running a marketing campaign currently? Does your coworker use an app like "Untappd"? Did they buy it with a credit card?

Are you friends with your coworker on social media? Do you use the wi-fi (or just your phone's data) at work?

That's why you saw the ad.
Yeah but I like my head canon better
 

Nerfgun

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,536
Nova Scotia
How is it high bandwidth? Google assistant tech converts your voice to text, matches a list of keywords, filters against what you may be interested in, and sends a concise ad term to Google
Well there are 2 flavors here really. iOS and Android. This is my understanding (sorry for long post)

iOS does a lot of local processing but it’s not 100%. If the local model fails, it obviously sends the recording to the cloud for processing. It also does this for various chained commands. You can actually see this in real time on an iPhone if you use the microphone feature on the keyboard, certain words that it transcribes will actually change once you’re done the transcription. Apple strips at all personally identifiable information from each Siri request or dictation request because they are not an ad company, they sell high margin hardware, so they don’t give a fuck. It behooves them in both a perception sense- you can trust Apple with your data- and in a legal sense, where they don’t want to be on the hook for all sorts of insane legal ramifications of having recordings of everyone with an iOS device.

Google is an ad company, and very very big on cloud processing as you know, so for them the solution is almost entirely sent for cloud processing (and I am assuming Alexa follows this model). So there is necessarily a recording uploaded. The very latest Pixel phones can do off-line voice processing but that’s brand new on the latest sets and only in American English I believe. (Someone correct me if this is wrong.) Which means there's no local model beyond the simplified one that knows how to wake up if it hears OK Google. I'm pretty sure you can't use it in airplane mode, so there's your answer. They very much want that audio data and probably use it to scrape anonymous speech usage data the way they do with Gmail. But they just simply don’t need to listen all the damn time, risking the legal entanglements and infrastructure issues, to get what they want. They’ve already surpassed this giant hammer method before it even became an issue. The algorithms and the connections and the network effects do all the work. And so you notice this when it manifests, but it's not because they had to just constantly listen and upload. They just don't need that.

Think about pervasive recording usage... it would rack up peoples phone bills like mad, while draining their battery faster than usual. How long do you think your phone would last on pure record mode all the time? While uploading? (I can’t speak to features like always on Shazam, that’s new to me but it seems like a bad idea) and certainly, a $25 echo device is not doing offboard processing beyond the command prompt, at least I don’t think ?!

Gods, think about the storage!

There are lots of ways to listen to a user if you just trick them into enabling the microphone. There’s also a lot of crappy apps out there that have been busted for trying to pull stuff like this. But there’s the key- they were busted. Because ultimately we can see the network traffic, the packet requests have destinations, even if they’re small of course. Go ahead and be paranoid, it's warranted, shit is bad. But be smart about where they're getting this info on your personal life, before you stuff gum into your mic port (or like many in here, just throw up their hands and say fuck it they're recording, but i guess I must keep using my voice assistant)

(I use Siri for a lot of menial stuff, rarely web lookups, and anecdotally I have noticed a gigantic decrease in targeted ads I've encountered since doing the usual Firefox/DuckDuckGo + scripts shift with my browsing. And I don't use FB.)
 

LL_Decitrig

Member
Oct 27, 2017
9,835
Sunderland
sometimes i get ads for things i never talk about and dont want
is google PUNISHING ME for being a FREETHINKER by LISTENING TO ME and sending me IRRITATING ADS for what I DONT talk about?!?!?!
btw u can keep ur elitist 'frequency illusion' and 'Algorithmys' scyens mumbo jumbo hogwash to urself I KNOW WHAT I SAW
Yeah but I like my head canon better
Human brains are really bad at processing coincidences.
Just when I thought this thread was going all to pot. Kudos, all.
 

MiHighGator

Member
Nov 8, 2018
181
I also had a creepier one (but I think it was a coincidence) where during our monthly beer exchange a coworker gave me this beer. I literally never mentioned the beer by name (or searched it) just said "Cool thanks, this one looks great"
Basically this same thing happened to me, and I explain about it earlier in this thread. My example was a birthday party and involved an alcoholic beverage somebody purchased.

With all the different types of data these companies have, I'm pretty sure Google/Facebook knows with a high degree of certainty that you have a monthly beer exchange. Pretty sure they also knew I was at a birthday party and there was a high degree of likelihood the alcoholic beverage I received ads for was going to be consumed there after the acquaintance I knew bought it.

You don't even need that many data points to figure this out. Remember, they are recording search data, website data (via cookies), location data, scraping messaging apps/emails (depending on what you use), analyzing relationship graphs, and doing so for every person at your monthly beer exchange, and then cross referencing that data against each other.
 

JetSetSoul

Member
Oct 28, 2017
948
I’ve been talking to my phone about how much I want soap for a few minutes. Now that I’m typing it I may get ads. I’d sure like to buy some soap. Either I get ads or am a crazy person, lose lose.
Despite mentioning my need for soap many times - my wife is v confused - and writing it here, no soap ads. Now I’m just nuts.
 

Cation

The Fallen
Oct 28, 2017
754
Tbh, I wish my phone actively listened to me in the way OP described. My life would be so much easier if I had targeted ads to the stuff I was gonna buy anyways lol

Despite mentioning my need for soap many times - my wife is v confused - and writing it here, no soap ads. Now I’m just nuts.
Lmao
 
Nov 14, 2017
1,644
Google is listening. When I first started my new IT job, I had never heard of or looked up Fortinet routers before but after having a conversation about them with my phone nearby every fucking site had Fortinet ads.
They can get that from your demographic and location data. People similar to you (so a similar occupation) in a similar location (your place of work) most likely have searched for those routers. So, you get the targeted ads.
 

Gorthaur

Member
Oct 28, 2017
149
I did the ultimate test some weeks ago.

I bought a new phone for my mother and I set it up with a new google account using the WiFi in the restaurant where I was having lunch. There was nothing AT ALL on the phone, no contacts, no apps, no assistants, nothing, only the standard apps you get with a Motorola phone.

As a test, I started talking about going to the lake and getting to do some snorkeling (which I NEVER did and have no plans to as I’m asthmatic. Never ever did I talk about the subject).

I turned off the phone and when I handed it to my mother there were ads for snorkel masks and fins in google chrome.

Sorry, but that’s proof enough for me.
 

NekoFever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,792
People will tell you that phones aren’t listening. Don’t believe them.

I’ve had almost the exact same experience as you, down to CBD oil being mentioned in conversation, and then receiving an email about CBD the next day. My father, who was in the same room when the CBD comment was made, also received a CBD email.

This is absolutely real.
CBD oil is an extremely common subject for spam emails because of the popularity and false medical claims around it at the moment.

You’re essentially arguing that if someone talks about Nigeria and then gets an email claiming to be from a Nigerian prince, it must be because their phone was listening.
 

Ikuu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,312
I did the ultimate test some weeks ago.

I bought a new phone for my mother and I set it up with a new google account using the WiFi in the restaurant where I was having lunch. There was nothing AT ALL on the phone, no contacts, no apps, no assistants, nothing, only the standard apps you get with a Motorola phone.

As a test, I started talking about going to the lake and getting to do some snorkeling (which I NEVER did and have no plans to as I’m asthmatic. Never ever did I talk about the subject).

I turned off the phone and when I handed it to my mother there were ads for snorkel masks and fins in google chrome.

Sorry, but that’s proof enough for me.
Conclusive proof folks, Google spying on users to sell them snorkeling equipment.
 

LookAtMeGo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,292
a parallel universe
I have google home. Its not listening to me until I say "hey google"??? Bullshit. Then how it know I said "hey google" if it isnt listening. I honestly dont care though. I welcome our advertising overlords. Bring on the dystopian cyberpunk.
 

Joni

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,020
You have always been getting these ads. You just didn't notice them because they weren't relevant.
 

NekoFever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,792
One thing no one ever mentions in relation to this conspiracy theory is that Google, Facebook, et al have this incredible technology but don’t actually offer the opportunity to buy these hyper-targeted, incredibly timely ads. Hundreds of thousands of people buy online ads as part of their jobs (including me), but no one’s ever seen the opportunity to buy one.

And the ones who apparently are able to buy them aren’t secretive corporations who are in on it but people hawking CBD oil, scuba gear and timeshares.
 

Dr.Phibes

Avenger
One thing no one ever mentions in relation to this conspiracy theory is that Google, Facebook, et al have this incredible technology but don’t actually offer the opportunity to buy these hyper-targeted, incredibly timely ads. Hundreds of thousands of people buy online ads as part of their jobs (including me), but no one’s ever seen the opportunity to buy one.

And the ones who apparently are able to buy them aren’t secretive corporations who are in on it but people hawking CBD oil, scuba gear and timeshares.
Sounds like something one would say who's part of the conspiracy...
 

Lotto

Member
Oct 28, 2017
684
Earth
bro i was eating some sabra hummus that i buy maybe twice a year and an ad popped up on instagram as i was eating it

conspiracy or not, shit's spoopy
 

Elfforkusu

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,788
A ton of ad network crap is embedded into miscellaneous apps (that have access to your mic for other reasons) these days, so... it's possible

However, I think it's still (far) more likely to be a coincidence.
 

o’dium

Team Blur Games
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
268
Telford, Shropshire
I’ve had this several times with searches on google/amazon, but where they appear on my wife’s phone (I searched on PC).

It’s pretty damn annoying, as we don’t even have a shared google or amazon account, but right there on her phone clear as day it shows up in adverts....

Makes buying a dildo impossible man... BOOM.
 

Stalker

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
2,355
I feel like all the 'smart' people in this thread that would normally invoke Occam's Razor in other instances have come up with all these explanations (theories) as to why the phone is NOT listening instead of just accepting the most simple answer.

As someone as already pointed out, Google is using this "feature" to display whatever song is playing around you at all times, without you asking, on their new Pixel phones. Yes, you have to opt-in but it's there none the less.
What a stupid post

Firstly there's entire communities of people who go out of their way to monitor traffic to and from devices and you can do this yourself. If google or anyone else was doing this it would be hugely HUGELY public because anyone can traffic monitor their own device. I can do it right now.

Secondly Occam's Razor in this scenario is that Advertising algorithms and profiles are incredibly advanced which is public knowledge and so ad targeting is often right on the money.

Thirdly local based auto listen is a feature available with Shazam, Xbox Kinect, Alexa and Google Home devices and everything else and their is a HUGE difference to detecting audio input and running a query search based on that audio or a local command based on audio instructions and "PHONES ARE LISTENING TO US" conspiracy shit
 

gozu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,945
America
What a stupid post

Firstly there's entire communities of people who go out of their way to monitor traffic to and from devices and you can do this yourself. If google or anyone else was doing this it would be hugely HUGELY public because anyone can traffic monitor their own device. I can do it right now.

Secondly Occam's Razor in this scenario is that Advertising algorithms and profiles are incredibly advanced which is public knowledge and so ad targeting is often right on the money.

Thirdly local based auto listen is a feature available with Shazam, Xbox Kinect, Alexa and Google Home devices and everything else and there is a HUGE difference to detecting audio input and running a query search based on that audio and "PHONES ARE LISTENING TO US" conspiracy shit

Quote for exposure. When I say "Alexa, what is an apple airport", I assume that data might be added to Amazon's DB and fed to their recommendation algorithms. Same way Gmail ad recommendation algorithm reads parses my emails to push more targeted ads at me.

But if I don't say "Alexa", or "hey google" I expect that none of what I say is stored for more than about a minute and none of it is fed to any company databases. The amount of liability a company would expose itself to would be breathtaking, as Keanu would say, if they did this. The reputational damage would also be sizable.
 

Aussiebattler

Member
Oct 27, 2017
188
Sydney
There’s obviously some very logical responses in here, but I honestly believe that our phones do record speech. My mate was starting a new job at a brand new shopping centre on the other side of the city (about 1 and a half hours away from where I live) and we talked about it for a bit. The next day I had a Facebook ad about the new shopping centre and I’ve never been to that area of the city in my life.
 

okdakor

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,217
France
You never went to this area, but your friend is starting to go there everyday for work. Google knows it (and even understands that he works here). Then tracking knows that you were around this friend, and this is linked to the shopping center...
 

NekoFever

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,792
There’s obviously some very logical responses in here, but I honestly believe that our phones do record speech. My mate was starting a new job at a brand new shopping centre on the other side of the city (about 1 and a half hours away from where I live) and we talked about it for a bit. The next day I had a Facebook ad about the new shopping centre and I’ve never been to that area of the city in my life.
There’s no need to record anything to make that connection and mark you as a good target for an ad for that shopping centre.

They know your friend has been there, that he was searching for info on the place beforehand, that you’re his friend, and that he called you soon after. He might have posted on Facebook about his new job too.

All of that is an indicator that he’s interested in this place, which makes the fact that he called you an indicator that he’s recommended it to you. Bingo. Here’s an ad for this place where all their signs indicate that you’re a likely candidate to visit.

Those are the kinds of connections that these ad networks are designed to make. And the fact that you got an ad even though you were talking about him working there rather than about how great it is and that you should visit is evidence that it’s making relatively dumb connections rather than basing it on the contents of any conversation.
 

Aussiebattler

Member
Oct 27, 2017
188
Sydney
You never went to this area, but your friend is starting to go there everyday for work. Google knows it (and even understands that he works here). Then tracking knows that you were around this friend, and this is linked to the shopping center...
He was starting the next week, no need to act like I’m a dumb cunt for believing it might be possible that they’re listening to us.
 
Jun 14, 2019
96
Even if it ever came out all these company's were basically recording, i can guarantee most would still carry on using them due to how far too many people require these things to live their lives
 

Aussiebattler

Member
Oct 27, 2017
188
Sydney
There’s no need to record anything to make that connection and mark you as a good target for an ad for that shopping centre.

They know your friend has been there, that he was searching for info on the place beforehand, that you’re his friend, and that he called you soon after. He might have posted on Facebook about his new job too.

All of that is an indicator that he’s interested in this place, which makes the fact that he called you an indicator that he’s recommended it to you. Bingo. Here’s an ad for this place where all their signs indicate that you’re a likely candidate to visit.

Those are the kinds of connections that these ad networks are designed to make. And the fact that you got an ad even though you were talking about him working there rather than about how great it is and that you should visit is evidence that it’s making relatively dumb connections rather than basing it on the contents of any conversation.
Thank you for not being a smug prick about it like the other guy :)
 
Oct 28, 2017
853
manchester
The amount of liability a company would expose itself to would be breathtaking, as Keanu would say, if they did this. The reputational damage would also be sizable.
we say this but as proven in this very thread (plus that one that claims they 'respect privacy' but love google) everyone's still using their incredible spying devices. one of them even had conclusive proof but decided to give it to their mother anyway!
 
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