Some theories have been making rounds that Facebook might be snooping on users' private conversations and the company now has an official response to address the matter.
The theories suggest that Facebook has been tapping into the microphones on users' mobile devices to eavesdrop on conversations and, based on the content of said conversations, serve better targeted ads and organize users' news feeds.
While the Facebook news feed has seen some changes and will continue to evolve, most recently with its DeepText AI system, the company denies any allegations of snooping on its users.
"Facebook does not use your phone's microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed," the company firmly states. "We show ads based on people's interests and other profile information - not what you're talking out loud about."
So in this case, what about that permission Facebook needs to access your microphone? Well, the company explains that it only taps into your microphone if you've given the Facebook app permission to do so, and only when you're using a feature that requires radio. Such a feature might include recording a video, or that optional feature that allows you to include audio when updating your status.
Otherwise, Facebook swears it does not invade its users' privacy and does not listen to their conversations on the down low.
This clarification follows the concerns a professor recently expressed with regards to Facebook's practices. Kelli Burns, a mass communications professor at the University of South Florida, recently told The Independent that she worried Facebook was secretly eavesdropping on conversations. The professor had no proof to sustain her allegations, but the concerns rapidly escalated into full-blown conspiration theories.
Facebook's response aims to clear the air and put such theories to rest, but it may not have everyone convinced. If you're still worried that it's spying on your private convos, you can always rescind permission for the app to access your microphone.
To do so, access your device's Settings > Apps> Facebook> App Permissions and toggle off Facebook's access to your microphone. You can turn off its access to other things such as camera or contacts from the same section.