According to the site, a professor at the University of South Florida has claimed she started seeing related ads on her News Feed after she talked about the similar topics on the phone.
Facebook, however, denied the allegations and issued a statement saying it only uses microphone when given access.
Kelli Burns, who is a mass communication professor at the university, said the Facebook app appears to be using users’ microphone to listen to discussions. “She says that to test the feature, she discussed certain topics around the phone and then found that the site appeared to show relevant ads,” says the report.
Facebook, in a blogpost dismissed the allegations, “Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.”
This is, however, not the first time the social media giant has faced such allegations. Gizmodo reports that a Reddit user made a similar comment in 2015, claiming he had started receiving pest control ads after he talked to his girlfriend about cockroaches.
The microphone feature was first introduced in 2014, and is only available in the US. “We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio,” says Facebook.