They’re Watching and Recording Everything You Do

Image from washingtonpost.com

I thought an interesting topic for this blog, that I have had personal experience with, would be the theory that smart devices can actually see and / or hear what is going on in your home. But I also would like to focus on how this also pertains to social media. I have two examples that are a little scary when you really think about it. I was with a friend, and they were helping me sort stuff that I had under my couch, that I had pretty much forgotten about. My friend found a package of empty gel capsules, that I had bought like three years ago, to use for a supplement that I was trying. I completely forgot that I had them. Anyways, my friend pulled them out and I said yeah let’s just throw them in the closet somewhere, because I really had no use for them now. Later that day, I was on my computer, on Facebook, and, incredibly, I saw an ad on my Facebook page from Amazon advertising empty gel capsules. It goes without saying that I see countless ads on my computer, on Facebook, my homepage, or otherwise, but I had never ever seen an ad for gel capsules. And the fact that it was on there, literally hours after I had found them under my couch, and briefly talked about it with my friend, blew me away. My other example involves a close friend. She was home cooking Korean BBQ on her own, no one around or anything like that. She has cooked Korean BBQ before, so did not need to do any research whatsoever on the internet to learn how to cook. She told me she was on YouTube later that night, and sure enough, on the recommended videos, there was a tutorial on Korean BBQ. The incredible thing is, she does not own a TV, just a laptop, and her phone. So here are two startling examples of the fact that we were just doing something completely random in our homes, and, within hours, each of us was subjected to advertisements and video recommendations of what we were doing and talking about.

Image from news.noretheastern.edu

It’s incredible to know that everything you do, and say in your home is actually being monitored. There is some debate on which devices are capable of monitoring your home activities. In my case, I own a smart TV, a Google Home, and Amazon Echo, and, of course, my phone and computer. So it is entirely possible that any or all of those devices could be monitoring the day-to-day activities that occur in my home. The question is, is it something that you should be concerned about? An interesting article from howtogeek.com discusses whether this intrusion is something that you should worry about.

Image from thesun.co.uk

In terms of how this relates to social media, it is clear by the examples that I provided, the various social media platforms are part of this so-called ‘conspiracy.’ They seem to be the benefactors of this data that is compiled by your devices. With my examples, advertisements and recommendations showed up on Facebook and YouTube. That would indicate that these companies are all working together; the manufacturers of the devices provide the data to the social media platforms, and then you are presented with that advertisement or recommendation, in an effort to influence, and grab your attention. A fascinating article on iot-now.com discusses how data collected by smart home devices is used on social media platforms to improve targeted marketing strategies.

Personally, I have more or less conceded that the trade-off for increased technology, that allows for an improved in-home experience, is that you have little or no privacy now. I am confident that nothing goes on in my home that is so out of the ordinary that I need to worry about what data is collected. I am simply not that interesting. But I would love to hear from everyone, how do you feel about the fact that everything that goes on in your home is being recorded and stored? Is it simply a case of, this is the world we live in? Or, does it upset and concern you, to the extent that you will take steps to maybe limit the types of devices that are in your home, and what they will be able to record?

3 thoughts on “They’re Watching and Recording Everything You Do

  1. I, and I’m sure many other people, had the exact same experience. My wife and I were discussing getting a new car and almost immediately, we started seeing ads for the specific vehicles we were discussing. It is likely meant to be convenient, as if to say “Oh, you’re interested in Nissan? Here are some ads for you,” Unfortunately, it just comes across as creepy, as if your devices are eavesdropping on you and sharing everything with all these advertisers.

  2. On the converse, my wife, in an attempt to prove the same point, has spent the last several weeks regularly, loudly and clearly, within earshot of our Google Home device, bemoaning the condition of our kitchen knives, and voicing her desire to purchase a new set. To date she has received exactly zero ads for kitchen knives on any of her social media platforms. So it is possible that your experience, and that of your friend can be put down to co-incidence, and confirmation bias in action.

  3. I remember when a few articles came out about this many people (including me) rolled their eyes. I think so many of us have experienced it in one way or another now though that we take privacy a little more seriously. The FBI coming out and admitting that they use these technologies in surveillance was another wake-up call as to what the trade offs are.

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