Are your smart devices listening to you?

Let’s start our posts off in a fun way. A way that you can play along at home.

I am sure that you have heard that websites use your browsing history to spy on where you browse, and what you search for. You likely know that your smart devices use GPS to track every move that you make while you carry them.

Did you know that they are actively listening to you also? Yes, they are like a little surveillance team that you willingly share some of your deepest secrets with. You know, the ones that you only tell your dog, cat, or maybe your plants as you water them? On the surface, we all must know that they listen. How else would Alexa hear your playlist request? Cortana and Siri are the same way, they are constantly sucking up the nuggets of voice and recording it.

If you want to prove that what you verbalize is being sold off for advertisers’ consumption, it is not too hard. This is where you get to play along at home. If you want, draft a partner to be your co-cyber-sleuth.

To maintain the integrity of this experiment, I am not going to suggest the subject of your test.

Here is the lab experiment:

Lab Requirements

  1. A smart device; Alexa, Siri, smart phone, or any other internet connected device with a microphone.
  2. Pen and paper
  3. If you are using a lab partner (or perhaps a group) you will need to communicate with the pen and paper to decide upon a product on the market that you have not searched for. This is going to be your target. Do not discuss it verbally at all while you decide.

Now it is time to conduct your experiment. Whether you are alone, as a pair, or team it is time to have a three to five minute discussion in the presence of your smart device about your subject. You might discuss brand names, qualities about the product, and possible vendors of the object.

Wait for thirty minutes to an hour, then open Facebook and scroll through your feed and watch the ads content. Did the test subject appear? If it did not, please drop a comment below letting me know of what your test subject was, and what device you were testing. If your test subject DID appear, please consider clicking on one or two of the ads on this page.

Does that sound fair? I look forward to hearing your results.

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