Well, well, well.. Facebook denies it!
Over the past few weeks, there have been reports that conversations are being listened to by Facebook, who then use that information to target advertising at you. As a marketing team, who dive into Facebook advertising on a daily basis, and spend a tonne of time on it on the outside, we have seen moments that make us go, “HOW DID THEY KNOW?”.
When we asked around the office, quite a number of our employees recollected an occasion where they thought it was odd. For example, one employee was talking to a friend about getting insurance with a particular company, and despite never going on their website, the insurance company kept appearing as an advert in Instagram stories for the next two weeks. On almost all occasions, the companies that come up in these circumstances appear to be large corporations.
Now we aren’t saying it is happening, there are arguments for and against the idea. For example, a lot of people unknowingly give Facebook access to their microphone (like when you give access to your camera), however natural language processing is extremely complicated (it took ages for Apple to perfect it). So it is unclear whether this is even technically feasible at this stage.
While we wouldn’t be suprised if it is happening, we can’t be certain as to whether Facebook is capturing data this way. One thing we do know – if they are, wait til consumer protection kicks in, something like this could cause a lot of damage to online advertising.