Merry Conspiracy

Are our devices listening to us?

Is the government listening in through our phones?

Most people are well aware that data is constantly being gathered to target specific ads to them, but how exactly are companies getting this information?

A majority of the websites that you visit use browser cookies, which are tiny pieces of code that track and share information. These cookies contain data on the things you view and purchase online and can be cleared at any time.

Many advertisers use behavioral targeting as a way to market their products toward you, based on frequent searches or page visits. This can be accredited to first-party data collection. First-party data is a direct relationship between you and your browser as the advertisers can access email addresses and purchase histories.

Image via Twitter

Many internet users today have developed theories of their own about how they receive ads that are strangely accurate in how they apply to them.

A slightly more logical explanation to the ad targeting aside from a tiny FBI man in your devices is the demographic you may fit the bill for. Some retailers present their ads to certain people, who based on information they provide online such as; birth date, gender, state of residence, or marital status, are more likely to purchase their products.

There’s a chance that simply living in the same house as someone who matches the advertiser’s profile may show you the same ads. Which maybe explains why you see an ad for something your sibling was talking about earlier. Location, location, location. 

As if the ads aren’t bad enough, let’s talk about our friend Alexa, the all-hearing Amazon home device. She’s good for jokes, homework help, and may even hold key evidence in murder cases like the death of Arkansas resident Victor Collins in 2015.

Devices like the Alexa are constantly listening out for specific trigger phrases that users may not even realize they are using.  Amazon customers from Portland, Oregon, whose identities remain anonymous, are victim to this after the recording and subsequent release of private conversation in their home following a series of vocal commands that neither party remembers giving.

Image via Twitter

Moments like these are eerie at times, leading people to believe that their phones are bugged and every word they say is being picked up by a mic.

alright……. i was talking about the ACT (in person) and then a facebook ad for the ACT came up…… STOP LISTENING TO ME @facebook

— rachel berman (@rachellberman) February 10, 2018

But chances are, this can all be chalked up to a crazy, somewhat creepy coincidence. Although, people might just have a right to be suspicious after hearing what former FBI director James Comey had to say when asked about covering his webcams during a news conference.

“I get mocked for a lot of things, and I am much mocked for that, but I hope people lock their cars,” Comey said. “Lock your doors at night. I have an alarm system – if you have an alarm system, you should use it. I use mine,” he said.

Image via Twitter

This additional security defense may be what lies between you and the peeping eyes of hackers. Just try and spare your government agent’s feelings while you’re at it.