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Is Facebook Spying on You Via Your Microphone?

Like us, you’ve likely experienced something to cause you to believe this to be true. You’re having a conversation with your family about some weird topic, you step away, open Facebook and the first sponsored ad is for whatever you were talking about.

We had this happen once on a smart TV where we were talking about buying new bed pillows for everyone, and then Pandora gave us an ad for pillows.

Is this coincidence or are companies spying through your microphone? It’s an odd phenomenon, because we can give you a ton of reasons why it’s not happening, but none of those arguments matter if you’ve experienced it. Let me give them to you anyway:

From a tech perspective, let’s start with the cost. It would be prohibitively expensive to run voice recognition at this level and that cost would need to be passed down to the advertisers, and that isn’t  happening. Your phone doesn’t allow apps to invisibly access your microphone, and there are privacy researchers in place who would absolutely find this happening, if it were.

Outside of it being virtually impossible from a technical perspective, there are other reasons. Think about how many people would have to know about this and keep quiet. Of all the necessary people, no one is unhappy enough with this level of privacy violation to blow the whistle. Seems unlikely. Can you imagine what it would do to Facebook’s already sliding reputation if this was made known?

Lastly, I want you to think about the thousands of ads you are shown a year, and 99% of them are irrelevant to something you only said out loud. This would imply, statistically, that it’s an anomaly.

I’ve made a compelling argument for why this isn’t happening, yet if you’ve experienced it, you’ve likely disregarded everything I just shared. Heck, I wrote this article, and I still don’t believe they aren’t doing it.

Once we’ve decided something, it’s hard to change our own perception, even in the face of logic.

This dilemma of are they or aren’t they serves as a perfect metaphor for the recruiting process. Candidates often base their decisions on perceptions, which may not always align with reality. As recruiters, it’s our job to bridge this gap. By providing clear information about opportunities and companies, we can guide our candidates toward making informed decisions, just as we strive to discern between fact and fiction in our digital lives.

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Tricia Tamkin, headhunter, advisor, coach, and gladiator. Tricia has spoken at over 50 recruiting events, been quoted in multiple national publications, and her name is often dropped in groups as the solution to any recruiters’ challenges. She brings over 30 years of deep recruiting experience and offers counsel in a way which is perspective changing and entertaining.

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