March 15, 2018

Is Facebook Listening to You?

One day, Anna Clausen was hanging out with a few friends and discussing a flight to Las Vegas. The very next day, Anna opened up her laptop–and noticed something odd.

“I opened up Facebook, and there’s this ad for flights to Vegas,” Clausen recalls. “I thought maybe it was a coincidence, but then I kept scrolling, and there was an ad for a casino, and then an ad for a hotel.”

These days, it seems like almost everyone has their own version of the same, unnerving story: They were talking with a friend about something and then, later that day or even a few days later, they started noticing ads for that very same thing in their social media feeds. The increasingly ubiquitous experience has left many people wondering: Are our phones listening to us?

Reporters Zoë Ferrigno and Susie Neilson set out to answer that question, speaking to a series of experts—from Facebook and Mozilla to the world of “ethical hacking”—along the way.

 

 

 

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