Nearly 18% of Australian adults believe their smartphone is eavesdropping on them, according to a new finder.com.au survey. Following a conversation about a product or service, respondents reported an advertisement appearing on their social media feeds soon after.
Also, 12% reported they were ‘totally freaked out’ by the fact that their devices appear to hear what they say; and 6% who believe it’s the trade-off for getting a free service like Facebook or YouTube.
Of the 2,085 respondents surveyed, Australians aged 18 to 23 (Generation Z) were the most paranoid, with 37% convinced their smartphones were listening in on conversations and exploiting that knowledge. The research also found 33% of Generation Y suspected their devices were listening to them, compared to 12% of Generation X and 4% of Baby Boomers.
However, there is no evidence that smartphones themselves are ‘listening in’, finder.com.au tech spokesman, Angus Kidman said.
“If you’ve been chatting to a friend about a product and it suddenly pops up in an advertisement in your social media feed the most logical explanation is you’re noticing it more. It is human nature to look for links and patterns, when in actuality most of the time it’s just a coincidence. We often remember an ad when it seems topical, but forget all the times that we’ve scrolled past other ads and not noticed them.”
Kidman said it’s no coincidence that consumers are targeted by certain products in their Facebook and Instagram feeds, with insights gleaned from visits to websites and online retailers. “There are plenty of apps monitoring and recording your every move, we just can’t blame the smartphone.”
The research also showed that women are slightly more wary than men when it comes to their smartphone spying on them. And even if there is nothing to hide, apps and websites like Facebook are tracking activity closely online, and users need to bear in mind that a lot of information and data is shared.
“Social media is becoming more prevalent amongst all generations in Australia and it’s important to stay wary, now more than ever, when sharing information online,” Kidman said.
According to the survey, 19% of Australians aren’t on social media.