Is Google listening to my conversations?

Hello Everyone,
Puts on tinfoil hat I’ve heard people mention it, but always blew it off. The other night my wife and I were having a conversation about our dog and his itchy skin. My cell phone (Samsung A21) was on the couch next to me.

Now, the only time our doggies itchyness was discussed was between my wife and I. I didn’t do a search on the internet. Didn’t discuss it on a phone call. However, since then, starting the next morning, I’m getting ad after ad for products to treat itchy skin for dogs.

The ads are coming in the form of pop ups and banner ads. Even video ads on YouTube. WTH? The only a way Google could know this is the phone was monitoring our conversation and reporting back to Google. Does this seem plausible or is this just an unbelievable coincidence?

I’m leaving the tinfoil hat on, until you guys tell me I’m nuts

Is it possible your wife did a search on that subject?

You could always test your theory, on another topic. If it happens again, you’d have a pretty good case for concern, I suppose.

Cell phones do monitor what you say. Mostly they are looking for certain key words to activate specific features on the phone. Cell phone manufacturers claim that this data is not sent anywhere, and the independent testing that I am aware of has so far not found any evidence at all that they are lying. Everything you say is decoded, scanned for specific keywords that the phone uses, and then discarded.

However, some independent tests have found that apps on the phone can access a surprising amount of data, including what is displayed on your screen, anything you type (including passwords), and possibly the voice data that the phone decodes and discards.

You might be nuts, but you’re probably not wrong about your cell phone spying on you. :wink:

Or your dog?

I absolutely believe that yes, your phone is listening and that data is used for advertisements. I was on a trip to a convention with some coworkers, and they were rambling about shopping for guns/ammo at Cabela’s… and for the next few days, ALL the ads I was being fed were for Cabela’s, especially LOW AMMO PRICES.

I… don’t do Cabela’s. Or hunting. Or anything of the sort. So that would definitely not come up as part of my history.

No, the wife nor the dog used my phone to search for anything. Dog had been banned as the last time he searched there were very naughty poodle pictures on my phone!

And just to be sure, I checked my search history and there was zero searches for dog or itchy.

Do you have one of those smart devices where you can say, ‘play light jazz’, and it does? Because if you do, then yeah, it’s absolutely listening to you. How else could it know when you say it’s prompt or name or whatever?

I would enjoy LOW AMMO PRICES ads. But no, I get dog rash ads. Sigh

Me too.

And since I use the same Google account on my phone as my PC I see them sharing info frequently.

This just happened to me very recently. I was shocked.

Yeah, it was more convenient for me than having to type more but holy shit was it freaky. A matter of less than a minute between the two.

I did not like it. I type pretty quick. I am fine typing a few more keys to get what I am looking for.

I’ve also had the experience where I was talking about something and when I went to my phone/PC it seemed to magically know what I was after.

Not kidding…it was spooky and disturbing.

The answer is yes. I disabled all my apps with microphone, location, and camera. I only allow them permission when I use the app. Carefully read these articles. Your smart tv listens too.

Must watch

I do use the assistant! In fact, pretty much anywhere in the house you can ask Google to play movies; “Hey, google, play Spaceballs on the living room TV!”

I don’t necessarily care, I can just confirm it is using ambient chatter to try to sell me things. I’ve literally never bought something from a random internet ad though…

Snowden explains it to you.

Everyone should know this!

Every time my desktop PC has a major update I get a nudge from Microsoft that it can’t access the microphone or camera. Check your hardware! Updates available! Unable! Unable!

This is a custom PC cobbled together from various parts. It doesn’t have either a microphone or camera to update. I’m sure that is freaking out something somewhere.

I do occasionally like to use voice to search for something on my phone or my FireStick, but I have those set to only listen when I push the button (or at least I’m pretty sure I do). Since I live alone and don’t talk (much) to myself it’s not like there’s a lot to listen for anyway. Well, when I’m talking to my birds there’s a “conversation” but I’m not sure what the ad algorithms make of “pretty pretty bird didja miss me baby bird hey there baby bird goooooood bird gooooooood bird hey baby hey baby hey baby pretty pretty” coming out of my conure.

No, your phone isn’t eavesdropping on you and sending you ads based on your conversations. There are plenty of easier, cheaper and more accurate ways for your phone to deliver those ads.

Early on in a Netflix doc about this subject, "The Great Hack’ a professor of internet studies in a classroom asked his students “who thinks your phones are listening to what you say?” A lot of hands went up. The professor’s answer was, “they don’t need to”.

He gave an example-- woman A, who is pregnant, meets her friend woman B, who’s just had a baby, in the park. Woman B tells woman A all about her new stroller, how it’s the best on the market, has all these great features, etc. Woman A immediately starts getting ads about the stroller, thinks their conversation was listened to. But actually, woman B was known to have purchased the stroller. The two women’s phones were tracked with GPS, so it was known woman A and B were in close proximity. Woman A was known to be in a similar demographic, of childbearing age, and maybe even known to be pregnant. That’s all the info that was needed.

These companies-- Google, Amazon, and the companies that gather data for them, know a LOT about all of us, and on top of that our movements and purchases are tracked. The OP is known by them to be a dog owner-- maybe there was a rash of itchy skin among dogs in the OP’s neighborhood, and many of the neighbors had already purchased dog anti-itch medication.

Heck, maybe they did actually listen to the OP’s conversation. But….they don’t need to.

I won’t argue with everyone that disagrees, I disagree. I provided some excellent resources. It is naive to believe otherwise. Please read and listen to the links I posted earlier

" A federal judge in California issued an order Thursday saying Google must face a proposed class-action lawsuit related to privacy about its digital assistant. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Google of recording certain users’ conversations and then analyzing the recordings to target advertising, despite the users having activated Google Assistant unintentionally.

"The case stems from so-called false accepts. If you say a “hot word” – for example, “Hey, Google” or “OK, Google” – near a device that has Google Assistant enabled, the digital assistant will listen and respond to whatever you say next. But sometimes Google Assistant’s hearing is faulty. It can mistakenly think you said one of those trigger phrases,

Using a smartphone’s microphone, Alphonso’s software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see. The information can then be used to target ads more precisely and to try to analyze things like which ads prompted a person to go to a car dealership.

There would be clear evidence if they were, and it’s not there. Certainly your phone provider is trying to scrape as much information about you as they can, and they have lots and lots of ways of doing so. But listening continuously to your conversations and deciphering it for meaning isn’t really one of them. It’s possible, yes, and there are some edge cases where your phone is obviously listening for commands, but there’s no evidence for the general case.

@Telemark hope you READ the articles.

Google Admits Listening To All Your Conversations Secretly

March 19, 2020]

@Telemark the lawsuit document is in the cnet link here ✓
“A federal judge in California issued an order Thursday saying Google must face a proposed class-action lawsuit related to privacy concerns about its digital assistant. The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Google of recording certain users’ conversations and then analyzing the recordings to target advertising, despite the users having activated Google Assistant unintentionally.”

One of the issues that the FTC and privacy advocates have with the use of ultrasonic tracking is that users generally have no idea that it’s occurring. The signals are inaudible and some of the apps that use it don’t disclose its presence, making it nearly impossible for users to understand the risks or potential privacy issues. The UCL researchers plan to present some defensive measures that can help users, as well, including a browser extension that will detect and filter ultrasonic beacons. They also developed a fix for Android that can force apps to ask for permission to use the ultrasonic spectrum.
“Unfortunately, the patch cannot be easily applied by “everyday” users, but the open source community and google can use it to incorporate this new permission to the operating system by default,” Mavroudis said.