Facebook is listening to us. It’s always been feared by many people that conversations that we are having are not private but someone is listening to us. Many other people claim that is paranoia and that we are safe but as of my research we are far from it.

As a digital marketer this matters more to me because we do need data so that we can sell items effectively on the internet. The problem comes about whether the data has been gotten legally or illegally. Then it becomes a moral question on whether it is right or wrong.

You might have wondered whether you are a victim of this or not. Here could be some proof. Have you ever had a conversation about something for example about shoes, and all of a sudden, your Facebook and Instagram feeds have ads for shoes? If your answer is yes, then you are a victim.


In June 2016 Facebook denied allegation that they are using our cell phones microphones to listen to our conversations.Facebook had this to say “We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio. This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates”

Technically speaking our phones are listening to us all the time. They are forever waiting for the commands “Ok Google” and “Hello Siri” or any other variation that is set up. We are ok with this setup because as consumers we consented to this. The problem comes because we have apps that are listening to our conversations without our permission.

There are apps that once downloaded keep tabs on the viewing habits of the phone users. For example games like “Pool 3D”, “Beer pong” use software from Alphonso.


Alphonso is a software from a start-up that collects TV-viewing habits. The software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see.

With this information, advertisers can come up with up precisely target ads. Also, advertisers can analyze which ads prompted a person to either go to a physical location to buy a product or service.

Alphonso was founded in 2013 and they tried to make the most from ads. They knew that many people use their second screen while they are watching TV. They realized that through our microphones they can record whatever sound is being played from the TVs. There are signals that ads, TV, and movies are transmitted which can be picked up by phones and tablets.

Once they have picked up the signals, combining it with the user’s IP they are able to find out if the ads are effective. The information they pick up is then sold to big data brokers, for example, Experian who will further sell the information to advertisers.


Alphonso’s software is used in 250 games from the Google Play store. The software uses new technology to enter our living rooms and get fresh information about us and sell it to marketers. Since there is $70 Billion in ad spending on TV, advertisers are willing to pay for this data. Other softwares out there that use our cell phone’s microphones are Silverpush and Vizio.


In my humble opinion, softwares and companies should inform us what they are doing with our phones. Especially companies that are pretending to be one thing and they aren’t. This would give us users a chance to agree or deny to provide our data.

From a marketing perspective, this is a huge opportunity where you would know what people are talking about, watching and what they are responding to. This will help with making decisions easier and help to make money for their clients.

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