- During Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony for a Senate committee on Tuesday, the Facebook CEO denied-again-that the app eavesdrops on user conversations via the smartphone’s microphone.
- Senator Gary Peters asked Zuckerberg to put this conspiracy theory to rest, saying he has heard from members of his own staff that believe Facebook is “mining audio” to gather personal information about users.
For years, Facebook users have publicly speculated the the app might be spying on them through their smartphone’s microphone, using their conversations to target unbelievably specific ads.
“My understanding is that a lot of these cases that you’re talking about are a coincidence,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress on Wednesday. He said that Facebook does not listen to unauthorized audio, and claimed that he isn’t aware of any similar tech company that does.
It was actually the second time that Zuckerberg had to deny the practice in as many days: On Tuesday, Zuckerberg told a joint session of the Senate that it was a “conspiracy theory,” and denied the practice with a flat “no.”
Facebook itself has regularly denied it does this since at least 2014.
Congressman Larry Bucshon pushed Zuckerberg on the matter on Wednesday, and shared instances from his person life in which he or his family members had been served ads that he felt were suspiciously based on verbal conversations they had offline. Zuckerberg said that there was a more innocent explanation.
“Someone might be talking about something, but then they also go to a website or interact with it on Facebook because they were talking about it, and maybe they’ll see the ad because of that,” Zuckerberg explained.
The only time Facebook records audio, Zuckerberg said on Tuesday, is when a user records a video. And that audio is not used for targeting ads, he says.
More on Zuckerberg’s blockbuster hearing:
- Business Insider’s live blog of the entire hearing
- Zuckerberg hinted that Facebook could offer a paid version one day
- Zuckerberg says AI won’t be able to reliably detect hate speech for ‘five to 10’ years
- Zuckerberg says Mueller’s office has interviewed Facebook employees in the Russia investigation
- Zuckerberg claims no knowledge of Palantir’s involvement with the Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal
- Zuckerberg will not be under oath during his Senate hearing, but will still have a ‘legal obligation to testify truthfully’
- Awkwardness ensues as top Democratic senator asks Zuckerberg if he’ll reveal what hotel he stayed at last night
- The notes Zuckerberg used for his congressional hearing show he was extensively coached for one of the biggest moments of his career
- Mark Zuckerberg survived 5 hours of relentless questioning from Congress – here’s what you need to know
- Zuckerberg was ready to call out Tim Cook over Apple’s privacy practices
- Zuckerberg says ‘we made it very clear’ that Facebook users could have their data harvested, so it didn’t break an FTC agreement
- Zuckerberg denies one of the longest-lasting Facebook conspiracy theories about spying on users
- Zuckerberg says it’s ‘entirely possible’ Russian troll farm indicted in Mueller probe used data harvested by Cambridge Analytica
- Zuckerberg was asked about an infamous ex-employee: Palmer Luckey
- Cambridge Analytica could have accessed private Facebook messages between 1,500 users and their friends