Furthermore, as in our naive approach above, this would be eminently noticeable as a performance degradation on your phone, since the background inference process would soon eat all your phone's CPU and battery, something you could easily check via the device's monitoring tools.That could change as smartphones get more powerful, and mobile developers more clever at running real computation in situ, but Facebook's targeting engine won't be running on your phone anytime soon. Let’s assume you could magically generate a perfect digital transcript of every spoken conversation overheard by a Facebook-enabled smartphone.But that’s a completely false equivalence; advertisers don’t care about the vast majority of even your most personal data. To assume that at-Facebook-scale AI will be able to figure out, even at the fluky level of internet advertising, just what you crave based on any given statement gives these technologies more credence (or paranoia) than they deserve. After all that sausage-grinding, the uptick in clickthrough rate thanks to inputting user posts to the targeting system was minimal.Put another way: Just because I have a naked photo of you on the internet, doesn’t mean anyone would pay money to see it. Not zero, mind you, but way less than advertisers would pay for.On the order of single-digit percentages of Facebook posts resulted in any sort of reading from the targeting machine.
Could the Facebook app do the same, listening only for specific keywords that trigger ads? The Facebook targeting system had something like a million targetable keywords when I left, and it's likely held steady or increased slightly.
Ever searched for something on your phone while making a call? Your phone would be like that all the time if Facebook were listening. The Amazon Echo voice-controlled personal assistant (and its Google equivalent, Google Home), put a slightly Orwellian-seeming listening device in many American homes.
The Echo has just enough hardware to detect a very small set of 'trigger' words, which start it listening.
As with all such theories—9/11 truthers, Obama birthers, 'grassy knoll' advocates—there's just enough seeming evidence to wrap a story around.
Here's one viral video supposedly demonstrating the phenomenon.