Contrary to popular belief, Facebook doesn’t use your phone’s microphone to listen to your conversations and then show you targeted ads. But it turns out that some other mobile apps are doing something pretty close.

The New York Times reports that there are more than 250 Android games, and some iOS apps as well, that use software developed by Alphonso to use your phone’s microphone to figure out what TV shows and commercials you’re watching… and the show you targeted ads.

Alphonso says its plugin doesn’t record human speech, just the signals required to figure out what you’re watching… even when you’re not actively using your phone.

And the company claims that everything is spelled out in its privacy policy (which most people will never read), and that games can only use your microphone if you grant them permission to do so when installing the game (which most people will probably do out of habit).

I did take one of the games with the software for a spin, opting not to let the game record audio or access my location. The game worked just fine without those permissions, since they only affect advertising.

The moral of this story is that if you’re creeped out by the idea of your phone sending data about your TV viewing habits over the internet, you should probably pay close attention to the permissions requested by an app. If you can’t think of a reason why it would need to record audio, try refusing that permission and see what happens… or just uninstall the game and find something else to play.

Or you could follow Alphonso’s opt-out instructions to limit advertising and/or microphone access on an iOS or Android device.

via xda-developers

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4 replies on “Some mobile games use your phone’s mic to hear what TV shows you’re watching”

  1. I wonder what the advertising value is for a target audience where the group is someone watching a particular TV show playing a game?

    1. Sun Tzu: To win in war, first one must know the enemy.
      Sounds like businesses declaring war on consumers.

  2. “Contrary to popular belief, Facebook doesn’t use your phone’s microphone to listen to your conversations….” Apple warned facebook in 2016 because they app make this, every developer or data analysis confirmed this in Facebook cookie, THEY ADMITTED THIS IN HES FUCKING EULA , FUCKING MORON

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