Research: Your Phone Is Watching You

Research: Your Phone Is Watching You

You may know about theories saying that your phone may be listening to every word you say. A team of researchers set out to explore whether this is true.

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You have probably heard about the conspiracy theories saying that your phone may be listening to every word you say.

Like this one time when you spoke with your friends about buying a new vacuum cleaner and Google showed you an ad of vacuum cleaners a few minutes after. So weird..and even scary, don’t you think?

Such weird situations have inspired computer science researchers from Northeastern University to conduct a yearlong study investigating whether our phones are listening to us.

Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes have reportedly invested their time in an experiment that went through more than 17,000 of the most popular applications on Android to check whether any of them were secretly using the phone`s microphone to capture audio. The apps that were included in the sample were some of those that belonged to Facebook, and over 8,000 others that send information to Facebook.

Gizmodo reports on their findings, saying that there is no evidence of an app unexpectedly activating the microphone or sending audio.

However, there was another disturbing and perhaps unexpected finding that the scientists reported. Applications recorded a phone`s screen and sent information to third parties.

It may be important to note that over 9,000 out of 17,260 apps had access to the camera and microphone of users, and could potentially “listen” and “watch” the users` activity.

To provide this statistic, researchers used an automated program to interact with each of those apps and then analyzed the traffic that was generated. One of the limitations of the study is that the automated phone users couldn`t do things humans could do, like creating usernames and passwords to sign into an account on an app. So, perhaps we can`t be completely sure. Our phones may be listening to us, after all.