I grew up in the time when cable TV boxes were supposed to have a camera or at the very least a microphone inside so they could see (or hear) what goes on inside your home. I remember covering up the cable box at night before going to bed. I don’t know if that ever really happened or if it was one big conspiracy. Today however, nearly everyone has smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, smart appliances… all of these have cameras and microphones, and with the apps on them, they DO listen to you, many silently await your command to come to life and answer your queries. Have you ever had targeted ads that happened because of something you merely TALKED out-loud about?
I have gotten used to targeted ads online, I know that Google and other websites actively track what I type and where I go online. Honestly, I don’t mind the targeted ads because if I am going to have to look at ads, they might as well be something I’m actually interested in. What does disturb me is the alleged eavesdropping on my conversations when I’m talking to a friend in person, not over the phone.
Do I have proof of this? No, not hard proof, BUT I have seen enough to satisfy my own suspicions. Let me give you two examples that have happened in the last few weeks and today.
About 2 weeks ago, I was with a few lady friends, we had been discussing women being abused, this is not a subject I search for online, once we moved on to another subject, I wanted to demonstrate how Google assistant works by saying “OK Google” to activate it without touching the phone, I did a search for something innocent, I think I asked “where am I”, it answered me, then it populated the the ads and some of the results with things related to women being abused, books, websites and the such.
Now fast forward to today, I was scrolling through Facebook, I noticed an ad for a FB page promoting handmade rustic dolls made of fabric, it really caught my eye because it was a different ad than I usually get, most of my ads have to do with Amazon products that I have looked at lately, watercolor related items and the such, I have NOT done any searches for handmade dolls in the last 2-3 years.
I had been in a dollar store on Tuesday, I was looking for colorful knee high socks, I explained to my friend who was with me that I intended to make sock creatures (dolls) with them as Christmas gifts, I find it quite curious that I suddenly get ads for handmade fabric dolls a couple of days after merely DISCUSSING this in person with a friend.
So now, what to do? I know this happens, even if “I” don’t have a digitally connected device on me, other people do, I need a phone for work, yes I could turn it off when I’m not using it, I could turn off all devices in my home, but quite frankly, that isn’t likely to happen. As far as I know, “they” are only using this to direct personalized ads to me, which I actually don’t mind so much, if I’m going to have to see ads, I’d rather it be for products/services I’m really interested in, I just wonder how else this data is being used for… is it being saved somewhere? Is it potentially going to be available for human consumption? Could it potentially be used against me at some point?
What say you? Has this happened to you?