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Let’s put this rumor to bed: Facebook is not spying on you through your phone’s microphone

Facebook knows a lot about you. But not because they are listening in.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies At Joint Senate Commerce/Judiciary Hearing
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Chip Somodevilla / Getty

It’s time to move on from everyone’s favorite Facebook conspiracy theory: No, Facebook is not listening to you through your phone’s microphone.

This is a crowd favorite. When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress this week to discuss the company’s data collection and privacy policies, he was asked if Facebook was spying on people through their microphones twice: Once by Senator Gary Peters, D-Mich., on Tuesday, and once by Congressman Larry Bucshon, R-Ill., on Wednesday.

Even those of us at Recode have been guilty of wondering whether or not Facebook is listening in.

But it’s finally time to move on.

Zuckerberg said it’s not true, not once, but twice, on the record, in front of Congress. His denial wasn’t even new. The company wrote a blog post back in 2016 explaining that it doesn’t do this. The post was helpfully titled, “Facebook Does Not Use Your Phone’s Microphone for Ads or News Feed Stories.”

But while it may not be true, it’s interesting that this theory routinely comes up. The fact that Facebook’s ad targeting is, at times, so accurate that people assume the company must be spying on them is a great endorsement of Facebook ads. But it’s also a spooky reminder of how much Facebook must know about you and what you do in your daily life.

And if you’re worried Facebook might be listening to you through your phone, you might not like what the company has in store. Facebook is building an in-home video-chat device that will include microphones. But given all the data concerns around the company, Facebook has decided to delay its release.

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