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When you type words into your search engine such as “vacation” or “trip,” seeing airline or hotel ads pop up on websites you read later is no coincidence.
Sound familiar? Many internet users have grown to accept targeted advertisements.
But now that we’re using our voices to control our smart TV, smart speakers and other devices, is what we’re saying also being used to collect information on us? The short answer: yes and no.
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These devices aren’t listening to your conversations. But once you enable the microphone by saying its wake word on a smart speaker or pressing a microphone button on, say, a smart TV remote, whatever you say next likely will be used to better market products to you.
Most of us blindly allow companies to use our information when we click OK on the fine-print agreements we see as we set up our gadgets. After all, the terms and conditions legalese can be difficult to decipher. Still, many users are understandably concerned about Big Brother.
What’s done with your data?
Your data is valuable to all kinds of companies. Smart TV makers may want to know what you’re asking to view and could sell this information to eager advertisers.
Similarly, what you listen to on your smart speaker, the kinds of social media posts you like, or what you’re typing into search engines is all valuable to the companies that provide these services, as well as advertisers, data brokers, search and browser companies and social media platforms.
Companies will tell you targeted ads help you see more relevant information and give you a better experience with your browsing session. If you “like” 👍 and comment on Facebook posts tied to playing golf, you may see more golf-related ads in your web browser — instead of seeing ads about playing drums.
Or by allowing your smartphone to reveal location information when you type "coffee" in Google Maps, it will show you what's near you and not in another city or state. You get the idea.