After a long period with no unattended microphones in the house I have had to allowed one to operate for the purposes of hands-free voice based device control. And sure enough…

We were just discussing purchasing an armchair, and have done a flat zero looking online for it because we were talking about getting one at a local shop. 15 minutes later there's a Google ad.

Goodbye :(

By the way my suspicion is it's not Apple selling voice data to Google. My guess is the problem comes from apps accessing the microphone surreptitiously. I actually think Apple knows app vendors are doing this and they are planning to out them in the next operating system update that will add a little light showing whenever an app is accessing the microphone. Like they did with outing those cache exploiters.

I think they know tightening up privacy can be a big attack on their major competitors.


Android 10 shows an icon when an app I accessing the microphone (unless it's only oxygen os, but I doubt it).

But it's still scary to see stories like yours.

@ljwrites right, I hate it. I really hope the next update puts a stop to it.

@freedcreative I’ve had this stuff happen with just cell phones (I suspect Facebook which my SO uses, but I’m not sure). My son and I talked about ‘adult diapers’ one day to test this and we didn’t get exactly that, but in the same day we were getting baby diaper ads.

@self I suspect the main culprits are any company with a major personalized ad business, i.e. Google, Facebook, Microsoft. I don't have anything from the latter two but I do have the YouTube app.

That's why I think Apple is making moves on privacy. Not because they suddenly grew a conscience, but because it's a way of starving three major competitors of revenue.

@freedcreative Damn, that’s awful… I’d want to buy an armchair less after seeing an ad like that.

@freedcreative Ugh. So creepy.

I remember one time I was sitting outside with my roommate, whose phone was on the table nearby, locked.

We were talking about some sort of baby-related thing, just as a joke. Later on, I went into the house and on my own desktop (not connected to her by any account, only the house wifi) there were baby item ads in my browser. Needless to say I had not been looking up anything baby-related.

There was an Alexa in the house...but we were in the yard.

@erosdiscordia so wrong... Do you happen to remember if they were Google ads?

@freedcreative I'm afraid I don't remember. It's likely, since at that point I believe I was using Chrome.

this is why voice assistants should be a customer owned device and service.

@Unairedspecifics that would be amazing.

The people developing Mycroft said they don't currently have plans for voice dictation but they are open to it happening in the future. I know Mozilla have some projects, but I'm not sure if they'll ever work on something that can execute controls at the operating system level. There have been some linux based voice control projects but they seem to be abandoned now. So I pretty much just have to hope Apple tightens up it's privacy game.

@dblas the ad showed up in firefox, but I suspect it was YouTube doing the whole ambient voice recording thing.

@freedcreative I don't know if this is helpful at all, but there are 2 #privacy-preserving voice assistant projects on our awesome-humane-tech list:

If you encountered more useful stuff, I'd be very happy to add them. The list is overall too light on good #accessibility tools still.

@humanetech it's super cool to see projects like this underway. Thanks for the share!

Unfortunately it doesn't really match what I need at the moment because I'm using voice as a full mouse and keyboard replacement.

The closest thing I've come across that's open is called Simon but it seems to be abandoned and I couldn't get it to install.

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