An American coffee shop owner has falsely claimed that Facebook is spying on him through his smartphone.
In a TikTok video, user @sheafast said that his app started showing his ads for oat milk after a conversation about a dairy alternative.
A recent 30-second post titled “They Listen” has garnered nearly 70,000 views and over 7,000 comments so far.
“I have coffee shops and we are short of oat milk,” the TikTok star, whose real name is not known, told his 38,000 followers.
“So my wholesaler asks to visit me and we can do a little taste test of a few different oat milk products. We meet, we steam oat milk, we taste test.”
She said that, later that night, she went home and her Facebook app was suddenly “filled” with ads for oat milk.
The influencer meant that Facebook may have recorded his conversation through his phone’s microphone for better targeted ads.
“I’ve never seen oat milk,” she claimed. “I never even opened my phone when he was with me.
“I honestly don’t know how to feel about it.”
People have debated for years whether companies like Facebook are listening in on their conversations.
But beyond rumors and anecdotes there has never been any solid proof that the social media giant is recording your chats.
Facebook has repeatedly denied the claims, highlighting that it bases the ads you see on your interests and information from your profile.
Multiple independent investigations have found no evidence that the US tech titan secretly listens to its users.
Experts say that, while Facebook collects a lot of data, there is little chance that the company will secretly record millions of people.
The main thing is that Facebook does not have it.
It knows enough about you from your browsing data and profile information to target you with very specific ads.
In the case of @sheafast as a coffee shop owner, it’s likely that many of her Internet searches and websites she visits will be coffee-related.
If Facebook knows this, it knows to target it with ads for products related to coffee: like oat milk.
Like many claims of phone microphone hijacking by Facebook, the disclosure of the ads was purely circumstantial.
Facebook has repeatedly and strongly denied that it uses microphone recordings to target ads.
“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or change what appears in the News Feed,” a company spokesperson said.
“Some recent articles have suggested that we should listen to their conversations to show them relevant ads. This is not true.
“We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking about out loud.
“We use your microphone only if you have given permission to our app and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.
“This may include recording video or using an optional feature introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.”
In other news, Facebook is planning to change the name of its company as part of a rebrand to be announced in the coming days.
There is a hidden feature in your Facebook profile that can tell if you are being targeted by hackers.
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