How To Stop My Phone From Listening To Me

If you think you’re being listened to through your smartphone, you just might be.

You’re having a normal conversation about which graphics card you should get next.

Then, you decide to start searching for graphics cards using your cell phone and before you even begin the search.

Here comes an ad about the new GeForce RTX 3080 displaying on your phone!

Wait, how did it know? Could it be that my phone heard my whole conversation about Nvidia Cards?

To keep it simple, the answer is Yes. Whether you want to believe it or not. Your cell phone is spying on you.

And of course, the big companies will deny it. However, your intuition knows better. In fact, according to facebook,

““Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed. Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true. We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information – not what you’re talking out loud about.”

Well, regardless if you choose to believe that or not, We will show you how to disable your phones microphone on specific apps that quite honestly, doesn’t need access to your smartphones mic.

Here’s how,

How To Block Listening Devices On Cell Phones

how to stop phone from listening

So you’re sick of seeing ads about products you just talked about. We don’t blame you. Before we cover more about whisper marketing, let’s cover the basics on how to disable the microphone on your smartphones.

For Android Users: Go to Settings, then find Privacy, from there, select Permission manager. Under permission manager, select microphone.

Under the microphone settings, you will see a list of allowed and denied apps. Decide which of the apps you’d like to disable the microphone settings on and click on that app. Let’s say Instagram for example.

Click on instagram from that microphone privacy settings and select disable.

Keep in mind that some apps may require you to allow them to access your microphone.

Also, by doing this, the app may not function as properly.

However, use your judgement and decide wether your privacy or access that app is more important to you.

Here is how to disable it with other smartphones such as windows 10 phones and iPhones.

  • Those on the iPhone: Go to Settings >> Facebook >> Settings and slide the microphone button to the left, turning it white, disabling it.
  • To disable the microphone for a Windows 10 phone: Settings >> Privacy >> Microphone – Will disable the microphone for all apps on the Windows 10 phone.

Alright, now that you got that out of the way, let’s talk about being spied on from other smart devices.

Is Your Smart Device Spying On You?

Now you may be wondering, wait, if my smartphone has a microphone. I’m sure my smart assistants and other devices spy as well.

It’s hardly a secret: while the convenience smart home devices bring us is unquestionable, so is the price paid in terms of privacy – or at least how much of our personal data we’re willing to sacrifice for that convenience.

Google Home records and stores everything you say

Your Google Home spends much of its time listening to “Hey Google” or OK Google” for its wake words. The system then records everything you say after the wake word and sends it for parsing to Google’s servers. Google needs to temporarily store these videos. But what you say can forever be stored by Google.

As the Washington Post points out the default behavior used to be to retain the recordings forever, but it is no longer. Google also allows you to opt-in to send your voice recordings to the business. Google did, however, make the move only for new users and not for current users. If your account has sent voice recordings to Google before, it will continue to do so until you turn it off.

Google has humans listen to your commands, compare them to what the Assistant thought it heard, and how the response was given. Google uses this process to improve its results or learn what features users want implemented that haven’t been yet.

It’s a good thing that Google is trying to make Google Assistant better. Changing the default from opt-in to opt-out is even better. Google has already taken the lead over Amazon with this issue- Alexa record everything by default and there is no option to turn it off.

How to Prevent Google from Collecting Voice Recordings

voice recordings

The good news is that you can tell Google to stop collecting your voice recordings if you’re a current user operating under the old defaults. The best news is that it’s extremely simple to do. 

Go to the Operation Controls page for Google to stop this. Scroll and turn off to “Voice & Audio Activity”. You’ll see a message that states that when you say “Hey Google,” Google devices might not understand you, but we think it’s an old warning text. Commands also work in our research. 

At the bottom of the warning, press the ‘Pause’ button.

pause settings for google voice recording

For any Google account you have linked to your Google Home, you’ll need to repeat this procedure. This setting extends to any system that you can say “Hey Google” to from your phone to a Lenovo smart display to a Nest Home Hub (formerly known as a Google Home Hub).

Delete All Your Voice Recordings From Google

You should erase what Google already has now that you’ve turned voice selection off. On the Activity Controls website, simply click on “Manage Activity” under the toggle.

voice and audio activity

Find “Delete activity by” at the top of the page.

delete voice activity

You can select which recordings you want to delete. To delete everything, click the box under “Delete by Date” and choose “All Time.”

At last, click “Delete” to erase the selected recordings.

deleted by topic or project
confirm delete of voice file

It’s awesome that Google has enabled a more privacy-sensitive option for new users. We hope Google makes the change retroactive. Hopefully, Amazon will follow in stride and give everyone access to controls in the future.

Bottom Line

Whether you choose to believe it or not, the decision comes down to you. Should you disable your listening devices or not.

Yes, having ads show up after speaking about specific products can be annoying and disabling your microphone access can stop specific apps from functioning properly, you’ll need to pick and choose your poison.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out cool things to do with old cell phones