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How often do you see Facebook ads about things that you were just talking about?

Sriram Iyer | Jun 26, 2019, 12.16PM IST
  • A recent survey has showed that more than half of India's smartphone users believe that their device is spying on them.
  • As many as 52% Indians believe their smart devices record personal information without their knowledge, a survey by YouGov said on Tuesday.
  • More often than not, social media feeds have ads about things that we have just spoken about and not searched for.

It was a lazy Sunday evening. I was sitting with a couple of friends and chatting about a company called Livspaces. I had barely heard of the home renovation company and, definitely, had never searched for it. We hadn't thought of redesigning our home since the time we moved into the current rented apartment in Mumbai 18 months ago.

Even the last Sunday night, the conversation had moved on from Livspaces within a few minutes because home improvement was not on any of our agenda. I woke up on Monday morning and like most people, the first thing I do is to check my phone. And BAM! There it was-- an ad for Livspaces on my Facebook feed.

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This was not the first time. The first time I noticed it, sometime in 2018, an ad about eggs seller from New Jersey had popped on my Twitter feed within minutes of a conversation about-- you guessed it-- eggs!

And I wasn't alone either. A colleague, Katya Naidu, shared a similar experience with her just as we were discussing this story.

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Too many people have had similar experiences. Given the spate of 'coincidences', it is hardly a surprise that more than half of India's smartphone users are worried that their devices are spying on them. "People have concerns about their online privacy and losing private data (such as photos, mails, financial information) is people's biggest tech-related fear (with 55% saying it)," according to a survey by YouGov, an Internet-based market research and data analytics firm.

A recent report showed that Amazon employees were listening to recordings on Alexa and there was much furore before the company clarified. The devices are certainly listening to what you have to say and the apps are throwing up ads based on these personal chats in physical presence of your friends.

We are, as a generation, far beyond the point of dependence on technology where one could draw the line. The fear is how far can this go before the technology is misused.

SEE ALSO:
It's possible for Amazon employees tasked with listening to Alexa requests to figure out a customer's home address, report says



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