We have all heard those stories where someone talks about a specific thing only to have ads for that specific thing pop up the next day, right? This happens a lot more often than you might think.

While many chalk it up as a coincidence, it’s not necessarily that simple. I recently came across a Vice article on this topic and it really put things into perspective for me. You see, Dr. Peter Henway the senior security consultant Asterix a cybersecurity firm told Vice that ‘non-triggered’ data is a very real thing. That being said, it might not necessarily be as intense and terrifying as many make it out to be.

Henway told vice as follows in regards:

“From time to time, snippets of audio do go back to [other apps like Facebook’s] servers but there’s no official understanding what the triggers for that are.”

“Whether it’s timing or location-based or usage of certain functions, [apps] are certainly pulling those microphone permissions and using those periodically. All the internals of the applications sends this data in an encrypted form so it’s very difficult to define the exact trigger.”

“Rather than saying here’s a list of people who followed your demographic, they say Why don’t you give me some money, and I’ll make that demographic or those who are interested in this will see it. If they let that information out into the wild, they’ll lose that exclusive access to it, so they’re going to try to keep it as secret as possible.”

“It’s just an extension from what advertising used to be on television,”

You see, people really underestimate the degree to which their activity online is monitored. Sure, we have privacy but there is a lot more to using technology in the form of smartphones and so forth than we tend to really even stop to consider. Tons of different apps, companies, and so forth have been under fire throughout the past few years for ‘listening’ to our conversations and Amazon Echo had even had problems with accidentally ordering things it overheard on TV for a little while.

John Pracejus director of the school of retailing, University of Alberta told Global News Canada as follows in regards to this topic:

“They know such a scary amount about you that they’re able to guess at the topics that you’re thinking about even without listening in on your conversations.”

“Smart TVs listen to you, phones listen to you, all of these voice-activated pods listen to you. It’s unknown how much of that is being recorded and transcribed and stored and used for ad-serving purposes.”

“The algorithm is better at knowing how things you think about are related than you are in terms of your own thought process because they have information across millions of people and you only have access to your own experiences,”

“How much privacy are you willing to trade for convenience, is really I think the big question of the next five years,”

Sam Nichols from Vice actually took the whole concept a bit further and decided to do an experiment on this. Twice a day for five days he tried to say several phrases. These phrases were some that he thought could be used as triggers. On Vice, he claims he said things like ‘I need some cheap shirts for work’ and other things of the sort.

Throughout the duration of this experiment, he monitored the sponsored posts and ads he saw on Facebook. Apparently, the changes came so quickly He noticed them overnight. Out of nowhere cheap clothing brands were popping up. What do you think about all of this? I for one find it to be quite creepy.

Featured Image Via Android Authority 

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