Suspicions that Facebook (and associated apps like Instagram) are secretly recording audio through phone microphones in order to better target ads have refused to die, despite official denials dating all the way back to 2016. In today’s Senate hearing, Mark Zuckerberg addressed the urban legend yet again, issuing an absolute denial.
“Yes or no, does Facebook use audio obtained from mobile devices to enrich personal information about users?” asked Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI).
“No,” Zuckerberg responded adamantly.
He went on to elaborate that Facebook does have access to audio when people record videos on their devices for Facebook, but otherwise it doesn’t access your microphone.
“Hopefully that will dispel a lot of what I’ve been hearing,” said Peters, before moving on with his questioning. The senator said that he had heard the conspiracy theory from many people, including his staffers.
Zuckerberg’s full answer follows below:
Senator, let me get clear on this, you’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads. To be clear, we do allow people to take videos on their devices and share those, and videos have audio, so we do while you’re taking a video, record that and use that to make the service is better by making sure your videos have audio, but I think that is pretty clear. But I just wanted to make sure I was exhaustive there.