We’ve all seen it happen: Suddenly, your social media feed is filled with ads about something you swear you never searched for—but you were definitely talking about it. Is it possible that your smartphone was listening and gave that data up to advertisers? (It's likely these are only well-targeted ads, since they have so many other online ways to track you.)
Of course, your smartphone is listening to your every word, in particular when you have a voice assistant turned on that needs a wake word such as “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google.” Otherwise, it wouldn’t answer. The same applies to smart speakers from Amazon, Google, and Apple.
Turns out that all this listening makes people anxious. Digital Third Coast, a search marketing specialist, surveyed 803 Americans in February to find out where they fall on the spectrum of worry. It turns out that the vast majority have concerns about cell phones and smart home devices listening to them. It's especially worrying to those with iPhones and smart speakers.
Note that only 13% have even considered buying a dumb phone to counteract their concerns. So convenience conquers paranoia, for most of us.
Sixty percent of those surveyed believe the eavesdropping extends to government tracking. The younger they are, the more they worry—but even 40% of boomers think it's happening.
With the data broken out by state, you can see what worries people the most in different areas of the country. New York and California residents worry about Alexa, and Texas and Virginia along with five other states consider going off the grid the most.
The biggest concern nationwide, based on Google Search trends from the year 2022, is that geolocation data is so easy for companies to get and use—another tradeoff when your phone is also your primary GPS device.
For more information, read the whole report at Digital Third Coast(Opens in a new window).
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