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Proof I'm Being Stalked By the Internet


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Events Team · Posted

Yes, I'm paranoid.  Clearly.  No, I'm not going to seek help because it's justified.

So I'm at the biker bar yesterday, about 29 hours ago give or take.  I happened to strike up a conversation with the old timer I'm sitting near because I mentioned that the jukebox was playing an unusual amount of ZZ Top.  "Oh, I put five bucks in the jukebox," he says.  Well, I'm a fan and apparently so is he, so we get to rappin' about the band and some of their cool tunes.

At one point the conversation turned to the topic of the new bassist.  (The original member passed away a couple years ago.) "Who's their new bassist?  He replaced what's his name who passed away..."

I can't really fault the guy, he's old, and it even took me a minute to come up with the original guy's name on the spot.  "Um, Dusty Hill.  But I don't know the new guy's name," I says. 

An utterly mundane conversation, but still rather unique because I never just happen to meet ZZ Top fans.

Then.  Today.  I was surfing when I got off work and this article was near the top of my feed.

AkDEwSr.jpg

The Algorithm, straight up, took that conversation and regurgitated the events of that article practically immediately.  It's published just 14 hours after our conversation. 

Now, I know we've all likely experienced our tech eves dropping and then seeing ads related to products you mention on your phone the next day, right?  And it would be one thing if my phone picked up on on it and then suggested this article as if it were written, say, six months or a year ago.  

But this motherfucker was directly addressing the question posed during that conversation.  And Elwood Francis (almost as if he takes offense) is responding to the the specific point that he is in fact not the bassist for the band.  It's dripping with specificity.  What the actual fuck is happening here?  I am clearly being targeted.

/Rant

TLDR: My phone spoon fed me a very specific article related to a conversation I had about the band ZZ Top.  Proving that the Internet is stalking me.

 

 

Anyway, what are your most bizarre experiences of your tech eves dropping on you?

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Editorials Team · Posted

I'm not saying this is what happened to you, but it is WELL within the capability of Google to:

1. Learn what you're talking about by listening through your phone

2. AI-generate an article specifically engineered for YOU to click on

3. Create a web page hosting that article with lots of ads and links, on a partner's website

4. Suggest that site to you.

And actually, I'd be surprised if this isn't already kinda happening to some degree somewhere.

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I find it funny when people think things like this. From someone that writes mobile applications, I can tell you this is impossible. When you write a mobile application, you put a line of code in there that requests access to specific peripherals on the device and the user has to manually accept the permissions so your code can access what's needed, for example the microphone. If you aren't giving this permission, it's not being accessed, there is absolutely no other way for the phone to access it.

Secondly, if the phone was running the microphone 24 hours a day and processing all speech it hears, the battery would die in about 10 minutes. Your phone is not listening to you.

What's more likely is you said something that sounded like, "Hey Google" or, "Hey Siri" and the phone activated, then started listening to your conversation thinking you wanted something. Then it heard ZZ Top and brought up a relevant article for you which got ignored because the phone was in your pocket. Or potentially if you mentioned it to someone else in your household and they searched for it from your IP address, it would have suggested that article once it saw your phone on the same IP and that person just never told you they searched for it.

I wonder if that guy you spoke to searched for it and your phone recognized you were in the vicinity, there could be something there as well. I'm not sure about that.

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1 hour ago, Code Monkey said:

I find it funny when people think things like this. From someone that writes mobile applications, I can tell you this is impossible. When you write a mobile application, you put a line of code in there that requests access to specific peripherals on the device and the user has to manually accept the permissions so your code can access what's needed, for example the microphone. If you aren't giving this permission, it's not being accessed, there is absolutely no other way for the phone to access it.

Secondly, if the phone was running the microphone 24 hours a day and processing all speech it hears, the battery would die in about 10 minutes. Your phone is not listening to you.

What's more likely is you said something that sounded like, "Hey Google" or, "Hey Siri" and the phone activated, then started listening to your conversation thinking you wanted something. Then it heard ZZ Top and brought up a relevant article for you which got ignored because the phone was in your pocket. Or potentially if you mentioned it to someone else in your household and they searched for it from your IP address, it would have suggested that article once it saw your phone on the same IP and that person just never told you they searched for it.

I wonder if that guy you spoke to searched for it and your phone recognized you were in the vicinity, there could be something there as well. I'm not sure about that.

I Want to Believe Wallpapers - Top Free I Want to Believe Backgrounds ...

Seriously, I mean what that image implies.  But here's the thing, #1.  I don't use Siri on my iPhone. I keep it disabled.  I do use Chrome as a browser, though.  Some times laptops are lying around, and usually, they are plugged in.  Regardless, my wife and I often have our phones near by, but with the screen off, though of course, from time to time we do open them to research something.

Here's the thing.  I can't count how many times we've had discussions, very specific, and then within an hour an ad pops up related to the discussion.  Flip-side, AdSense is well aware that my wife and I are married because she will often research something on her phone or PC and, literally, within an hour I'll start seeing ads every where related to what she was searching for.  This doesn't surprise me, though.  Still, it's creepy.

Below are a list of events that I've seen that makes me skeptical that, somehow, they've tapped into the mic, or Apple is selling data.

  • My wife and I would hear a band in Spotify.  Mention going to one of their concerts, with no device turned on.  The next time she, or I, cut on our phone there's an advertisement for the band if they are having a near by concert. We also don't go to many concerts (maybe one ever 1-2 years) and we don't see advertisements for concerts, except, when this happens.
  • My wife from time to time needs personal, lady products.  I don't google this, search for it, or look for it.  She'll mention she needs item "X" and I'll get advertisements for it for 24-28 hours.  This only happens when she's around me and talks about it.
  • Temu, Shein, AliExpress are sites that I never go too, and they throw tons of money at advertising.  From time to time, their ads show up and that's no surprise.  What does surprise me is how often my wife will mention something we need to buy and then, boom, within the hour, those sites are advertising specifically what she said, on my phone, and I did NOT google it.

There have been several other cases like this, but these are the ones that have happened most frequently.  To many times my wife and I have simply talked about stuff to buy, never googled what the other person was talking about and then within a very short period of time, a random ad appears for the product.

I'm fully aware of confirmation bias and one could try to argue that "the ads are always there, you just never noticed".  But that's not true.  Most ads, for me, seem to be pretty common, run-of-the-mill ads because I have logged into Google AdSense and set all of my personal settings as low as they can go.  I almost NEVER see an ad that isn't in the realm of common items and services.  The outliers are almost always after I've had a conversation about products and services and it always sticks out when something pops up that I've never even personally searched, nor even has my wife.

If this happened once or twice over the years, I'd agree.  But this happens easily bi-weekly, whether to me or my wife.  Also, I get that you're an App Dev and I was for a time too.  It would be a big issue if Google somehow got with Apple and worked out a deal to have background access to mics and I'm not ready to go there.  But, with that said, I have an iPhone and my wife has an Android.  Apple could be scrapping what data they want and they could be selling it through some background channel semi-anonymously and of course, Google owns Android and AdSense, so they can do whatever they want, and so long as they have some odd, obscure setting buried deep through 6 menus, legally they may be listening to you and using that info to their advantage.

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1 hour ago, Code Monkey said:

I find it funny when people think things like this. From someone that writes mobile applications, I can tell you this is impossible. When you write a mobile application, you put a line of code in there that requests access to specific peripherals on the device and the user has to manually accept the permissions so your code can access what's needed, for example the microphone. If you aren't giving this permission, it's not being accessed, there is absolutely no other way for the phone to access it.

Secondly, if the phone was running the microphone 24 hours a day and processing all speech it hears, the battery would die in about 10 minutes. Your phone is not listening to you.

What's more likely is you said something that sounded like, "Hey Google" or, "Hey Siri" and the phone activated, then started listening to your conversation thinking you wanted something. Then it heard ZZ Top and brought up a relevant article for you which got ignored because the phone was in your pocket. Or potentially if you mentioned it to someone else in your household and they searched for it from your IP address, it would have suggested that article once it saw your phone on the same IP and that person just never told you they searched for it.

I wonder if that guy you spoke to searched for it and your phone recognized you were in the vicinity, there could be something there as well. I'm not sure about that.

I don’t know about your nerd mumbo jumbo but Facebook is particularly egregious about this.  They don’t even try to hide it.  They will throw you an ad on the very specific obscure subject mid-conversation.  And no, I do not wander around absent mindedly mumbling, “hey siri”. 

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2 minutes ago, Hammerfestus said:

I don’t know about your nerd mumbo jumbo but Facebook is particularly egregious about this.  They don’t even try to hide it.  They will throw you an ad on the very specific obscure subject mid-conversation.  And no, I do not wander around absent mindedly mumbling, “hey siri”. 

Well, I don't even use Facebook, though my wife does.

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1 hour ago, RH said:

I Want to Believe Wallpapers - Top Free I Want to Believe Backgrounds ...

Seriously, I mean what that image implies.  But here's the thing, #1.  I don't use Siri on my iPhone. I keep it disabled.  I do use Chrome as a browser, though.  Some times laptops are lying around, and usually, they are plugged in.  Regardless, my wife and I often have our phones near by, but with the screen off, though of course, from time to time we do open them to research something.

Here's the thing.  I can't count how many times we've had discussions, very specific, and then within an hour an ad pops up related to the discussion.  Flip-side, AdSense is well aware that my wife and I are married because she will often research something on her phone or PC and, literally, within an hour I'll start seeing ads every where related to what she was searching for.  This doesn't surprise me, though.  Still, it's creepy.

Below are a list of events that I've seen that makes me skeptical that, somehow, they've tapped into the mic, or Apple is selling data.

  • My wife and I would hear a band in Spotify.  Mention going to one of their concerts, with no device turned on.  The next time she, or I, cut on our phone there's an advertisement for the band if they are having a near by concert. We also don't go to many concerts (maybe one ever 1-2 years) and we don't see advertisements for concerts, except, when this happens.
  • My wife from time to time needs personal, lady products.  I don't google this, search for it, or look for it.  She'll mention she needs item "X" and I'll get advertisements for it for 24-28 hours.  This only happens when she's around me and talks about it.
  • Temu, Shein, AliExpress are sites that I never go too, and they throw tons of money at advertising.  From time to time, their ads show up and that's no surprise.  What does surprise me is how often my wife will mention something we need to buy and then, boom, within the hour, those sites are advertising specifically what she said, on my phone, and I did NOT google it.

There have been several other cases like this, but these are the ones that have happened most frequently.  To many times my wife and I have simply talked about stuff to buy, never googled what the other person was talking about and then within a very short period of time, a random ad appears for the product.

I'm fully aware of confirmation bias and one could try to argue that "the ads are always there, you just never noticed".  But that's not true.  Most ads, for me, seem to be pretty common, run-of-the-mill ads because I have logged into Google AdSense and set all of my personal settings as low as they can go.  I almost NEVER see an ad that isn't in the realm of common items and services.  The outliers are almost always after I've had a conversation about products and services and it always sticks out when something pops up that I've never even personally searched, nor even has my wife.

If this happened once or twice over the years, I'd agree.  But this happens easily bi-weekly, whether to me or my wife.  Also, I get that you're an App Dev and I was for a time too.  It would be a big issue if Google somehow got with Apple and worked out a deal to have background access to mics and I'm not ready to go there.  But, with that said, I have an iPhone and my wife has an Android.  Apple could be scrapping what data they want and they could be selling it through some background channel semi-anonymously and of course, Google owns Android and AdSense, so they can do whatever they want, and so long as they have some odd, obscure setting buried deep through 6 menus, legally they may be listening to you and using that info to their advantage.

You hear the band on Spotify? Listening on your phone? Well then Google / Apple knows you listened to that song and will react accordingly.

13 minutes ago, Hammerfestus said:

I don’t know about your nerd mumbo jumbo but Facebook is particularly egregious about this.  They don’t even try to hide it.  They will throw you an ad on the very specific obscure subject mid-conversation.  And no, I do not wander around absent mindedly mumbling, “hey siri”. 

We're constantly activating Alexa in our house because we'll say things that sound similar and it will start listening after muting the television / music and the blue light will show. We just keep talking and then it will start giving us information about our conversation. For the next few days it would give us advertisements related to that so somtimes it's not that you're purposely activating the listening mode, it may be an accident. Sometimes I hold my finger on the power button on my phone when picking it up and that activates the assistant.

You can also disable relevant advertisements, I've done this on every platform now. It doesn't use a tracking ID for me so it just gives me random advertisements not related to me in any way. This is an option on all platofrms and it's in your settings.

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4 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

You hear the band on Spotify? Listening on your phone? Well then Google / Apple knows you listened to that song and will react accordingly.

We're constantly activating Alexa in our house because we'll say things that sound similar and it will start listening after muting the television / music and the blue light will show. We just keep talking and then it will start giving us information about our conversation. For the next few days it would give us advertisements related to that so somtimes it's not that you're purposely activating the listening mode, it may be an accident. Sometimes I hold my finger on the power button on my phone when picking it up and that activates the assistant.

You can also disable relevant advertisements, I've done this on every platform now. It doesn't use a tracking ID for me so it just gives me random advertisements not related to me in any way. This is an option on all platofrms and it's in your settings.

I’m under no illusion that I am not carrying a tiny tracking device in my pocket that projects all my everything to whomever is listening.   Privacy has been dead and buried since we all traded it for these things.  I actually opt in to targeted ads when presented with the choice because if you are going to strip my privacy anyways the situation should at least work for me.  My issue with Alexa isn’t that she’s spying on me, it’s that she’s a piece of shit that can’t even play the right fucking song I asked for! 

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12 minutes ago, Code Monkey said:

You hear the band on Spotify? Listening on your phone? Well then Google / Apple knows you listened to that song and will react accordingly.

We listen to Spotify 99% of the time on Sonos.  In fact, my wife only uses Spotify when she's driving around with the kids.  I'm distinctly recall this happening in the kitchen.

Also, there are a couple of key points.  We typically do not see ads for concerts because we're not concert goers.  We use to be when we were in our late-10s and 20s, a lot actually, but now we don't.  We only see the ads, when we recall going to old concerts and, low and behold, it's always about the specific band we talked about.

Again, this doesn't happen often, but it has happened more than a few times over the years.  The chances of talking about going to a specific concert and then getting an ad for them playing within 150 miles is rather slim when you do not get concert ads.

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4 hours ago, Code Monkey said:

From someone that writes mobile applications, I can tell you this is impossible.

That's what someone who writes these applications WANTS us to believe.

I'm on to you, reptilian overseer! My conspiracy group on Substack will hear about this! 😠

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Sounds like future James double backed in time and wrote the guitar world article.  You are only reading it now because if you had read it before you talked to the old timer in the bar, it may have caused something heavy like a parallel timeline.

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Events Team · Posted
3 hours ago, fcgamer said:

I bought a Red Bull this morning. Get to work, looking at my IG and there's a random Red Bull advert video.

Another clear indication that future events are influencing the present.  We're all doomed.

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Editorials Team · Posted
On 7/11/2024 at 6:01 AM, Code Monkey said:

Secondly, if the phone was running the microphone 24 hours a day and processing all speech it hears, the battery would die in about 10 minutes. Your phone is not listening to you.

What's more likely is you said something that sounded like, "Hey Google" or, "Hey Siri" and the phone activated, then started listening to your conversation thinking you wanted something.

How would your phone know that you said Hey Google/Siri if it weren't listening all the time??

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1 hour ago, Splain said:

How would your phone know that you said Hey Google/Siri if it weren't listening all the time??

I used listening and processing ubiquitously. It's listening, sure but it doesn't process anything until it hears the trigger word. So it hears you talk about ZZ Top but doesn't do any sort of processing on it if you didn't use the wake word first. That's why I asked if he potentially accidentally used the wake word first.

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