Creepy examples of ad targeting: are smartphones eavesdropping on us?

Have you ever seen an ad that's a bit too accurate? And we don't mean one about something you've googled 5 minutes prior to seeing it. Sometimes ads are targeted in mysterious ways and can be so on point that it shocks you. We've gathered a few examples when that happened.
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40 Comments

1. Dbosss

Posts: 35; Member since: Mar 18, 2019

Wtf is eavesdropping!!!!!! Never heard that word ever!!!

8. Cat97

Posts: 1861; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Just learn basic English. A lot of opportunities will open to you.

2. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

There's a reason GreenMan avoids Facebook and its little minion, the so called "Messenger" like the plague! He's so enlightened and wise, isn't he? If you want security, then look no further than iMessage™, exclusively available on Apple™ Products. But in all seriousness, if you're not using end-to-end encryption then you're basically shouting out loud in public. I'm almost exclusively using iMessage nowadays and have yet to encounter a sneaky, creepy advert. I can say the same thing about What'sApp and Telegram, two other chatting apps that offer end-to-end encryption, and were my bread and butter when I'd my Sammy S6. Oh well, G'Day!

5. TBomb

Posts: 1394; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

You must do something on your phone besides iMessage. search? maps? game?

7. PicDop

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 11, 2019

Sorry, but Whatsapp is owned by Facebook. I was texting with my GF on WhatsApp about some brands (Chloe and MiuMiu). First time I ever mentioned this brands. Next thing I know my facebook was full with adds from those brands.

15. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

They can keep sending ads all day as far as I'm concerned. If my ad blocking vpn isn't on then my standalone ad blocker is. Before that it was happening to me all the time but only for items I searched or pages I visited. The only Facebook app I use is WhatsApp out of necessity.

35. japkoslav

Posts: 1499; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

I wonder ... guys, how is the life without an ad blocker? Sound pretty intusive.

37. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

Ad blocker for websites primarily..... Smarta$$!

36. TheOracle1

Posts: 2213; Member since: May 04, 2015

Facebook is the dirtiest, most insidious company doing this. Two days ago I called a friend for the first time in almost a year and yesterday I received a friend suggestion for him on my fb page. I only access fb via browser and don't use any of their apps except whatsapp. So I looked at the WhatsApp permissions and phone is included. Wtf does whatsapp need phone permissions for? I unchecked every permission it doesn't need to function. Zuckerberg and his company are scumbags. I can tolerate Google because they're actually useful. Facebook and it's creepy apps are not.

3. iloveapps

Posts: 855; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

If Apple = Greedy then Android = Creepy.

6. TBomb

Posts: 1394; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Only 1 item listed the phone type and it was a Samsung app on a Samsung phone. Samsung is hardly all of Android.

14. Tipus

Posts: 847; Member since: Sep 30, 2016

He doesn't know anything other than Samsung :))

40. blastertoad

Posts: 40; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

And that one example does not give enough information to make any conclusions. What keyboard are they using, where did the ads appear and what service where they being delivered by. Either way all of the examples given save for the vehicle related text response are intended functions and should not be surprising to anyone who informs themselves about the devices and services. This is an issues with a generally ignorant populace who are misusing and not respecting extremely versatile tools.

22. MrMalignance

Posts: 295; Member since: Feb 17, 2013

@iloveapps: quit trying to sensationalize the article. They mentioned Samsung, but from personal experience, I've heard of this happening on all platforms. That's right: all of them. People who I know who use Android and apple have both complained about this. The predominant factor I've noticed is Facebook. Facebook does happen to be on most of those devices. That's why I don't use the Facebook app. Creepy permissions and fine print about turning on your mic or camera when they want to, not when you do it

4. buccob

Posts: 2963; Member since: Jun 19, 2012

Maybe it is coincidence but this has definitely happened to me and people I know.

20. AbhiD

Posts: 720; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

It's not coincidence. Personally have had too much incidences where i found that many apps, infact the phone itself was constantly monitoring what i was doing.

9. azuleyez

Posts: 22; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

I have absolutely no doubt our phones are eavesdropping on us. IN fact, I have proof. Recently I was talking to friends about dental work after one had mentioned needing a crown. We discussed for several minutes and shared stories about how expensive dental work is. Moments later, I log into Facebook and I was immediately targeted with ads about local dentists in my area and dental savings plans. I HAD NOT GOOGLED, INQUIRED OR RESEARCHED ANYTHING DENTAL ON MY PHONE OR COMPUTER, EVER. Now how is this possible???

10. Valdomero

Posts: 666; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

That's some blackmirror witchcraft right there dude/dudette

11. Cat97

Posts: 1861; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Facebook could have used you location and determine that you were in the same place with your friends, then one of your friends may have googled the subject and facebook's algorithms determined that you may also be interested :)

12. Vogue1985

Posts: 447; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

My pixel does this ALOTTT. Could be talking about something, ie food,cars,locations. And when I surf the ad or stream music,the ads match what I talked about. Oh well its aGoogle phone so sorry shouldn't be surprised

23. MsPooks

Posts: 72; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

That goes with the Pixel turf, though. More than any other, a Pixel is Google's hook into your entire life. Not making a judgment on that; it's just the way it is.

31. lyndon420

Posts: 6736; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

That's the way it is with every platform.

13. dnomadic

Posts: 400; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

This must be the iPhones message for this years iPhone because it is all I am reading about recently (phone security). I can almost guarantee this will be a big point during the iPhone launch this year.

16. Damac71nina

Posts: 21; Member since: Aug 06, 2012

Stupid article. Have you been living under a rock? Of course your phone knows you and spy’s on you just like the rest of your IOT devices in your home if it connects to the internet and collects data chances are it knows you very well. That’s why I have no smart home devices there all connected to the Internet with no security lol your cameras can be used against you, garage door hell even your door locks. I’m surprised people don’t know about this stuff and no I’m not a hacker but I know a few

17. shonasof

Posts: 26; Member since: Mar 18, 2019

Ads tailored to your own interests are still just Ads. You're going to get them either way, and like 99.99% of them, people just ignore them. This is how ads _should_ work. If your phone were constantly transmitting everything you talk about to an external server, your data usage would skyrocket, and no one would want to manually deal with/sort through that much data from that many phones. Also, when you accept the user agreement for the services you use on your phone, you're giving consent to the way the phone operates whether you read the TOS or not.

26. mariosraptor

Posts: 174; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

And that's why I'll return to a basic feature phone really really soon. No more privacy. Wish I hadn't even the feature phone. But I have to.

32. lyndon420

Posts: 6736; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

Best thing to do is get a burner phone while they're still legal.

28. bucknassty

Posts: 1325; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

my thing is when someone at work comes to me with a crazy story about sky diving or something i get ads about it... WTF never been, never looked it up... someone is listening... and listening to the wrong s**t!

29. Abdbaas

Posts: 141; Member since: Apr 05, 2016

It's 100% true. I was working for Google and I can tell you that people were out there (like public transport, trains, planes etc) until recently recording at all time..

30. drdrew321

Posts: 1; Member since: Jul 11, 2019

Recently a friend and I were watching the movie “The Highwaymen” on Netflix, about the Texas agents who took out Bonnie & Clyde. One scene is in the Texas governor’s office, who happened to be a woman, Miriam Ferguson. My friend said, “Texas had a woman governor in 1934?” I started to Google it on my phone, and I only got to “Who was the gov ...” and the first thing that popped up on Google was “... governor of Texas in 1934.” We were freaked out. I did a lot of searching and discovered that Google is recording bits and pieces of everything said around your phone, all the time, and processing it through their AI algorithms. This happens EVEN IF YOUR PHONE IS TURNED OFF! As long as the battery is not dead, the phone will continue to record and transmit stuff it hears all the time. I read a suggestion that I deny the Google app access to my phone's microphone, and I did that. I hope it works.

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