Why it always feels like Facebook is spying on you

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 How much is paranoia and how much is real?

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Bipul Lama believes Facebook is spying on him. 

And he’s got proof, sort of. Lama performed a test. For two days, all he talked about was Kit-Kats. 

“The next day, all I saw on my Instagram and Facebook were Kit-Kat ads,” Lama said. 

After his Kit-Kat experiment, he successfully repeated it with chatter about Lysol. The 23-year-old musician is now more convinced than ever that Facebook is listening to his conversations through his phone’s microphone. 

“It listens to key words. If you say a word enough times, the algorithm catches those words and it sets off targeted ads,” Lama theorized. 

Lama is far from alone. The belief that Facebook is actively listening to people through their phones has become a full-on phenomenon. Facebook has, of course, denied it does this. That has done little to dampen the ongoing paranoia around the theory.

Because it is just a theory… right?

Facebook’s covert ops? 

Most people using Facebook understand that the social network is a giant data-collecting machine. Some users put Facebook’s monstrous size and unknown goals out of mind, but others find it hard to dismiss. How much does Facebook know about them? What’s Facebook using that information for? And how much of these concerns are paranoia, and how much is real? 

“In many ways, of course Facebook is spying on you,” said Brandie Nonnecke, research and development manager at the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society. “It’s not doing it for malicious reasons. It’s trying to tailor content to you and advertisers.” 

“In many ways, of course Facebook is spying on you.”

Lama’s experience seeing Facebook ads that seem to reflect his offline life is par for the course for many Facebook users. 

“One time I was texting a friend about how I really wanted some clear-framed glasses, then I got a Warby Parker ad,” said Olivia Reardon, a 25-year-old based in Boston. “Like how does Facebook know what I’m texting about? It reads my mind and my texts!” 

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p dir=”ltr” lang=”en”>Facebook is spying on us. Don’t believe me. Talk about anything all day and watch an ad for it show up on your fb or Instagram

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