Big Brother is watchingNot only is the federal government’s National Security Agency (NSA) tracking our emails, phone calls, snail mail, and money transactions, now comes news that Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, a non-government privately-owned business, is tracking you online and also listening to your cell phone!

WLFA ABC10 reports that USF Professor Kelli Burns warns, “I don’t think that people realize how much Facebook is tracking every move we’re making online. Anything that you’re doing on your phone, Facebook is watching.”

It all starts with enabling the microphone feature in your cell phone’s settings. Once you do, choose your words carefully because Facebook will be listening.

For that matter, Facebook actually admits all this in an online statement:

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We use your microphone to identify the things you’re listening to or watching, based on the music and TV matches we’re able to identify.”

Facebook’s eavesdropping ostensibly is to match ads to the user. Facebook listens for certain buzz words in phone conversations, then places certain ads in your Facebook feed which match your interests front.

WLFA ABC10 confirmed this with a test by having Professor Burns enable the microphone feature on her cell phone, then talk aloud, phone in hand: “I’m really interested in going on an African safari. I think it’d be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps.”

Less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was a safari story that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. The story even mentioned a jeep. Then a car ad also appeared on her page.

USF graduate student Danielle Quichocho is not surprised by Facebook’s eavesdropping and is planning her thesis around this very topic. She said, “It’s all about the bottom line, and if this is a way to fatten that bottom line, they’re gonna do it. If you agree to the terms and conditions, then you know what to expect. The internet is forever! You leave a footprint there. They’re going to find it. That’s just how it is.”

It gets worse.

Zach Epstein reports for Fox News that even people who don’t have a Facebook account will now be tracked.

On May 26, 2016, Facebook announced that it is changing the way its advertising works on third-party websites and apps called Audience Network.

Until May 26, Facebook’s off-site ads were only shown to Facebook users. Now, that will no longer be the case.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook’s off-site ads will now be shown to people who are not registered Facebook users. That means webgoers without Facebook accounts will now be tracked by Facebook so that the ads they’re served will be “better targeted to their tastes.” Facebook can track a user across most or even all of the web pages he or she visits. That information is then stored and analyzed by Facebook so that advertisements served by Facebook’s Audience Network partners are more likely to be relevant to these users.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg

It turns out this isn’t really news. More than a year ago, our DCG already sounded the alarm that Facebook is “illegally” tracking all visitors to its site, even if they don’t have FB accounts. Facebook is simply admitting what it’s been doing all along.

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FoxNews says it’s easy to thwart Facebook’s ad tracking. Find out how right here.

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H/t Big Lug

~Eowyn

Dr. Eowyn’s post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds