Have you ever been talking about a product, then you suddenly begin getting ads for the exact item on your phone? That’s because your phone is listening to you – kind of.
Your smartphone is set up for voice recognition to use voice assistant apps like Siri. These features are designed to only begin listening to you when commanded to do so. For example, saying “Hey Siri” will turn on your iPhone’s voice assistant feature.
However, your phone doesn’t just listen to you when using voice assistant apps. It also listens to the conversations you have on it. While this may seem to some people as an invasion of their privacy, it is entirely legal. When accepting the terms and conditions of software updates and app downloads, you often agree to data collection.
This data is typically used to customize advertisements for products or companies you’ve recently searched or clicked on.
When your smartphone’s microphone is actively picking up what you’re saying, an orange dot appears in the top right-hand corner of your screen above the Wi-Fi and battery icons.
It is possible to limit the amount we allow our iPhones to listen to us, it just takes a few simple adjustments to the smartphone’s settings.
First, go to the “Settings” app on your phone, then click on the “Siri & Search” tab. Toggle the following options to “off”: Listen for “Hey Siri”, Press Side Button for Siri, and Allow Siri When Locked.
If instead of an iPhone you have a Google smartphone, you can turn off your Google Assistant by going to “Settings,” selecting the “Google” tab, clicking “Account Services” then “Search, Assistance & Voice,” selecting “Voice” and “Voice Match,” then turning off “Hey Google.”
If you have an iPhone, you will also be able to keep your device from listening to you altogether by going to the “Settings” application and clicking on the “Privacy & Security” tab. You then click on the “Microphone” tab and you will be shown which apps have access to your microphone.
You may then deselect each app that is shown, effectively revoking their ability to use your phone’s microphone feature.
It is important to note that if you have accidentally installed malware on your device, scammers could be listening to you. You can recognize the presence of malware if your phone is functioning slowly and you’re getting strange pop-ups on your screen. It is likely that the malware was unintentionally downloaded on the phone after clicking a link that was illegitimate.
There is a variety of antivirus software available to download on your smartphone. Fox News recommends TotalAV which works to protect all your devices against hackers, scammers, and malware installation.