Just got another ad for something I have never once searched for in my life, but was discussing with my partner last night.

It’s disgusting and I can’t wait till the day when once again the only microphones in my house are on devices I have total control over.

And people I see who insist this doesn’t happen and say it’s purely because algorithms know us so well are mistaken. They can’t predict things utterly unrelated to data they have on you, yet still hyper specific to spoken conversations.

It’s a little personal but fuck it, I’ll include the specifics for the clarity.

Last night I jumped in the shower then realised I’d left my exfoliating glove in the other bathroom. So I called out to my partner who went and grabbed it for me.

I’ve never searched for anything remotely related to exfoliating gloves in my entire life. Nothing tangential like skin care or anything either. Zip. Zero. In all of time.

Then today I get this ad, also unrelated to any other ads I’ve been seeing:

Could these absolute goblins be more creepy.

This is not an isolated incident, and hence can’t be hand waved away as a one off coincidence. This weird shit has happened to me many many times before, and also to many many other people.

The first DAY I had to turn my iPad on again, it happened.

It’s obscene.

And if our circumstances mean we can’t discard these devices we can’t do shit about it because people won’t even acknowledge it’s happening.

Sorry, forgot an image description. The ad shows a woman wearing an exfoliating glove in the shower, exfoliating her leg.

@freedcreative oh ew 🤢 After Apple's entire song and dance about being so privacy-respecting, their devices fucking stalk you in your own home??

@ljwrites I can’t be certain it’s the Apple device this specific time as there is also a PS5 in here which has a microphone in the controller, and my partner’s Windows PC. However I do know for certain something in an Apple device has been responsible in the past.

That was prior to their display of a little orange dot when the microphone is used, so for all I know it’s a different device this time.

And I can also say there were no “coincidences“ when there were no open mics on closed devices.

@freedcreative why don't you test it again with another unusual term?

Even if I'm no big tech user, I guess this would be to obvious and easily to proof..

Anyway I would never trust a spy device under someone elses control

@Calypso1 I have, and I’ve found it’s generally not something you can get to function on demand.

But it’s happened so many times, both to me and many others, it’s abundantly clear.

@freedcreative imagine what would happen to Apple's fan base, if it could be demonstrated.

The mobile devices are full of ads, it is summertime, everyone wants to look good = the right time to roll out that kind of ad.

@Calypso1 I actually think, based on the reaction when they got busted having contractors listen to Siri recordings, there’d be a few weeks of news headlines then Apple would say “Oops didn’t mean to, it’ll never happen again” and everything would carry on as it was already.

People still don’t even believe the stuff they’ve openly admitted to.

And it may not even be Apple. It may be Google or whoever abusing vulnerabilities in the system. I honestly don’t know.

@freedcreative That's super creepy and unfortunately not the first time I've heard such a story. I've switched to a feature phone in spring and it does indeed feel like I'm getting less targeted ads. Might just be the overall reduction of online time though, not sure.

@rostiger I have zero doubt that when there are no uncontrolled microphones there are no “coincidental” ads or YouTube recommendations.

The reason is I spent a couple of years learning and getting tech kitted out that would allow me total control over all mics in the house. For a solid year I had no creepiness. None.

Then when I had to change my tech, it immediately came back. Now it’s something noticeably weird every couple of weeks, give or take.

@freedcreative @rostiger what gets me is that there's an entire industry built around the idea that we actually want hyper-targeted advertisements shown to us.

@theruran @rostiger I’m not so sure they care about what we want.

Another thing I don’t understand though is what’s wrong with contextual advertising anyway. If I’m reading about art and you want to show me an ad for art equipment, I’m thinking about art so I’m going to be way more interested.

But if you show me an ad for you-fucking-bugged-my-house I just want to throw your entire platform onto the fire.

@freedcreative They sometimes call it "interest-based advertising" to make it sound like something you would want, but it's actually about what you respond to. Not necessarily with positive emotions. We know how well anger sells.

@rostiger @freedcreative
> I switched to a feature phone and it feels like I'm getting fewer targeted ads

I think this could potentially be explained by you no longer using your phone to browse the web (so you'd be going to fewer websites that could track you).

But even if that is the case, I don't think having your every movement online being tracked by your browser, the sites you visit, cookies, or your OS is much more benign than unsecured microphones or webcams having access, it's still a huge violation of privacy

@jens Can it stop your voice recordings going out?

Or does it just stop the ads coming in so you don’t see which conversations are being mined.

@freedcreative That depends. It's just managing DNS blacklists, so it's not doing very much at all. However, it seems to work for most ads and trackers.

In principle, there's nothing stopping someone from using the same DNS name for nefarious as well as reasonable purposes. Or from using IP addresses. In practice, people seem to use separate names a lot.

It works even on a first generation rpi, so it's a cheap way to cover a large amount of the problem space.

@freedcreative YouTube ads are the last very annoying issue we have. YT seems to switch DNS names a lot, so blacklists have a hard time staying current.

There are also blacklists for other purposes like gambling or crypto or other stuff you might not want in the house.

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