Who here has an iPhone? Is it listening to your conversations?

Kind of a weird one this but me & 3 of my friends have, quite independently, recently become a bit suspicious of the iPhone/safari search interface and its ability to rather uncannily offer text predictions and first results about things we’ve been talking about - quite obscure things too.

so, can we do some kind of experiment here? Can anyone with an iPhone open safari and type the first 3/4/5 letters of something they’ve been having actual conversations about (not text) that they haven’t been searching and see if they get any spooky results

does this make sense? Or do I need to give an actual example?

It’s always listening, as soon as you say Siri it responds.

Neither I, nor any of my 3 friends who were suspicious, have Siri turned on

My Facebook has definitely been generating adverts for stuff that I have been talking about and never Googled (and friends have suspected the same). Both on iPhones.

If items are appearing in suggestions, it’s more likely to be Google providing those responses. Those suggestions are heavily tailored based on what Google knows about you - location, income, social status, interests, your friends’ interests, and so forth. A couple of similar stories have come up over the past few years and it’s often things like being connected to wifi where that same wifi point has been used to search for the same thing recently.

Live recording, transcription, and analysis of conversation is possible but hugely processor and battery intensive. Your phone won’t be doing it.

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I use google chrome m9

yeah, but this is specifically iPhones, safari & audio eavesdropping I’m talking about

Is Google set as your default search engine? If so, the suggestions in Safari is powered by Google, not Apple.

Haven’t got an iphone but I have had adverts targeting stuff I have spoken about and not searched.

Anyone watch that film Ex Machina? I thought one of the most interesting ideas was that yer man Llewyn Davis managed to crack AI by hacking every smartphone in the world and using the result as a massive language/learning database (the character claiming that all the tech firms were also doing the same).

Domhnall Gleeson is a bit of a charisma void though isn’t he…

My mates started noticing this years ago. Fucking terrifying.


this is why the iphone battery life is so rubbish!!!

are you suggesting that the iPhone is listening to you 24/7 - or just when you are talking on the phone?

yeah, google is my default search engine in safari but the issue I’m looking at here is how the phone itself is providing data to the search engine - siri is off, tracking is off, search engine suggestions are off, safari suggestions are off

and yet … obscure conversation pieces (that are not part of anything local) are coming up as top search results



room conversations - not phone conversations

I’m inclined to think this is like horoscopes, tbh. The thing is you’ve got a huge amount of connected data in there that Google has already amassed and Facebook too. A lot of this data is compared and tracked.

It’s hard to scientifically analyse what you’re saying. Your friends are discussing things they haven’t searched for? Okay…but if it’s stuff that friends might have searched for then the system already has an idea about that and may be able to make elementary deductions based on realtime events, if that makes sense?

What I’m saying is that you were thinking about stuff based on outside influences that it can know about.

The best way to really test this is to try to talk with your friends about something completely non-influenced. All three of you should come to the table (as it were) with these ideas. Something that isn’t about current affairs or previous searches, say, and then see what happens.

Nothing cropping up that I wouldn’t expect it to suggest as part of a natural search algorithm. It is quite an old iPhone though.

like, for instance, an obscure medical ailment that begins with 3 very common letters

yeah, we did that

also, no facebook


they know they are on to them now though

the matrix will return to “safe mode” for awhile and stick to showing you ads for things you have literally just bought