How Is the Facebook Android App So Diabolical?

January 2nd, 2017

Update: How Facebook Learns About Your Offline Life

I found this, but it doesn’t mention the “hot mics” issue that is obviously real:

How Facebook Learns About Your Offline Life

Can anyone explain this one?

During Christmas, I was over at a house with a bunch of family members. My brother in law’s girlfriend was there. Let’s call her Jane. She’s in IT and we were talking about how diabolical the Facebook Android app is. She had it on her phone anyway. I don’t have it on my phone, and I set my phone in another room.

Anyway, there were Corona beers being tipped back and I mentioned how, through clever marketing, horse urine like Corona can be promoted to a global brand that people can buy even in a place like Northland, NZ.

Jane also friended another girl there who I met once about 10 years ago. Let’s call her Kate.

I’m friends with Jane on Facebook, but not Kate.

The next time I went on Facebook, to check my Star Wars humor and video game news in my throw-a-way browser, Facebook was displaying Corona beer ads to me and asking me if I knew Kate, the girl that Jane friended.

I get that the Facebook app is listening to conversations taking place in the room, but here’s my question:

Did Facebook automatically spam all of Jane’s friends with Corona ads and “Do you know?” prompts for Kate? Or was it more targeted? In other words, did that thing somehow know it was me, even though my phone doesn’t have the app installed and was 15 metres away in another room with the door closed?

Whatever sorcery that Facebook app is up to on mobile devices, it’s very bad. If this was a malware app, it would be front page news, but even people who know better are installing this shit on their phones on purpose. My point is: Even if you don’t have the app on a mobile device, chances are that you are having conversations with people who do.

I would assume that all of that audio is up for grabs by Facebook/U.S. Intelligence/Cops/_____ fill in the blank.

4 Responses to “How Is the Facebook Android App So Diabolical?”

  1. bloodnok Says:

    This is what happens when you have thousands of software developers looking for something to do, combined with no sense of restraint. Machine learning is going through a massive expansion at the moment and everyone wants to get on (or be seen to be getting on) the bandwagon. Unfortunately this means that it gets thrown at every problem without any sort of review, so you end up with stuff like this.

  2. Duros Says:

    What makes me curious about the FB thing, is how the metadata is being processed. It seems like too large of a task for FB to manually have people listening to this audio for advertising purposes, is there some AI construct in place? Pretty spooky, I deleted all of my social media and got rid of my smartphone awhile ago, the microphones on them have gotten significantly more powerful over time.

    Good call on avoiding Corona. Pretty much all cheaper beer (though Corona is on the expensive side), has high fructose corn syrup. Very few people seem to know about this because they aren’t required to list ingredients on alcoholic beverages (at least in the US). PBR, Coors, Miller, etc. all have it.

    The hangover with these beers is much worse, can go 3-4 days if you are a heavy drinker, HFCS is nasty, nasty stuff.

    Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

    Wolaver’s – all beers
    Lamar Street – Whole Foods label (brewed by Goose Island)
    Bison – all beers
    Dogfish Head (organic when ingredients available)
    Fish Brewery Company – Fish Tale Ales
    Lakefront Brewery – Organic ESB
    Brooklyn – (organic when ingredients are available)
    Pinkus – all beers
    Samuel Smiths – Samuel Smiths Organic Ale
    Wychwood – Scarecrow Ale

    GMO free
    Non-Organic Beers (Unpasteurized & Unfiltered)

    Sierra Nevada – all choices
    Duck Rabbit – Brown Ale, Porter, Amber Ale, Milk Stout
    Dogfish Head- 60 Minute IPA, Shelter Pale Ale, Chicory Stout
    Shipyard – Summer Brew
    Victory Brewery – Whirlwind

    I drink Sierra Nevada, I’m sure I take a few extra rads for drinking something produced on the west coast, but I’ll trade that for being able to think straight.

    Another point to mention with alcohol, its oxidative product is carcinogenic. (when you digest it)

    This is what gives you the hangover, it’s a potent neurotoxin. It also strips your B vitamins and some of your zinc, which causes separate issues. Taking vitamins helps, so does eating meat.

  3. Duros Says:

    Also: Look into making a Faraday box if you have a smartphone, they sell similar bags but you have to check 1 star reviews, not all of them work. These block all signals to the phone (wifi, cellular, etc.).

    Machine learning sounds so much nicer than AI construct, amazing what euphemisms can do to perception. Wait until they finish the Smart Cities projects they’ve already secured funding for, who needs RFID chips when people willingly carry around much more advanced transponders/listening devices?

  4. bloodnok Says:

    I think this needs some more rigorous experiments to try and remove accidental bias. (ie: Maybe you noticed the corona ad more because you’d just been talking about its subtle horse-piss notes. Maybe you’d tuned out corona ads prior to that conversation).

    What about an experiment like this:

    1: Go on facebook once a day for a week or two, record all ads you can see.
    2: Have a conversation in range of a friend’s phone in which you talk about commercial product X you’ve never talked about before (and never searched for online).
    3: Continue recording facebook ads for the next two weeks.
    4: See if ads for X appear after the conversation, but not before.
    5: Rinse and repeat for more data points.

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