Everyone has that friend who has their conspiracy theory that their phone is always listening to them. Some cite examples of having a conversation near their phones and immediately seeing ads for a product they mentioned during their conversation. Most of us have thought that this friend is just paranoid, but it turns out that might not be the case.
This week, a new filing in an outstanding lawsuit was submitted against Facebook claiming, among other things, that Facebook keeps an open connection to the phone's microphone and listens constantly. Additionally, the suit claims tat Facebook scans texts, listens to calls, tracks locations and watched use of competitive apps. All of these methods are used to further the company's advertising goals.
The information comes to the court care of information obtained from corporate emails and text messages, sent between executives of Facebook. The company claims that the accusations are false, and that the company does not access any of this information for any purposes. However, Facebook Lite, an app available for lower end Android devices, has a specific opt-in process for collecting this exact information on users. Facebook claims that, without opting in, they do not collect this information, and do not collect it on the standard app.
A Facebook representative responded to the claims, saying,
The allegations that they have outlined are meritless, and designed to detract from their complaint which asks the court to order Facebook to grant developer access to the users' friends' data, a capability that was eliminated in 2015. We have made it clear that we will fight this lawsuit and protect users' data.
The company did admit in March that they did collect call and text information with prior approval. This means that the app is capable of collecting this information, regardless of who they collect from.