Local News


Is your phone listening in? Or is it just paranoia?

Posted at 10:40 PM, Feb 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-25 09:27:13-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — So you just talked to your friend on the phone, then after that while you're scrolling through your social media feed you see an ad for something you just talked about!

You didn't even search for it online. And you start thinking: "That's creepy. Is my phone 'spying' on me?

So many people have asked that.

So I tested out this theory, I had three coworkers call me and talk about these the same 5 random keywords: cat food, downtown Las Vegas, vacation, salads and furniture.

They were not allowed to search these keywords or anything related to them.

For 3 days, we monitored the ads they'll get on their social media feeds.

Within hours, two got ads for events and restaurants downtown, Coincidence? They DO live in Las Vegas, after all.

But Audrey got ads for furniture stores (show the ads INGEST) --- one ad, even has cats in it.

Audrey Michael says, "The World Market (ad) one was kinda strange. I don't know if there's one nearby. I haven't been to one since I worked in Texas."

Are we just being paranoid? Tech analyst Rob Enderle says not really. Blame the apps on your phone. "Apps are very much like children in some ways they do a lot of stuff you don't intend them to do."

Remember those free apps you downloaded?

"You kinda wanna know how they're making money because that free might not be free at all."

Apps usually ask for your permission to access your microphone, location, or camera. Rob warns, once you hit OK --- you are possibly allowing marketers and programmers listen to you as well....

So what can you do?

Enderle suggests, "If it doesn't use the camera, why would it need access to it? Or if it's voice enabled, why does it need access to the microphone? These are questions we need to be asking every time we download an application."

Or else, Siri is dialed in... and listening.