Are Google and Facebook Really Spying on You?

Staff Writer / 10-02-2020 / News

Privacy has become a major concern in the always-connected age of smart devices and ever-present social networks like Facebook and tech giants like Google.

Most people do not want devices listening to their conversations, storing them, or worse, sending these private conversations back to social networks and developers through their apps. But this seems to be exactly what’s happening! So, are social networks like Facebook and search giants like Google really spying on you through their apps? The quick and easy answer to that is, “yes, they are”, but probably not in the way you think.

There’s been many reported occasions where users have had private conversations and then had adverts relating to that specific topic turn up on Facebook or even on search engines like Google. Dutch publication VRT NWS reported that Google hires independent contractors from around the world to listen to and transcribe audio recordings from Google Assistant in order to improve the technology. Amazon has also been shown to practice this with its Alexa smart assistant.

Your smartphone ‘listens’ for trigger words such as ‘Hey Google’ in order to record what you’re saying, decipher it and deliver accurate results. Without the triggers, your voice recordings are just stored on the device for a certain amount of time before being overwritten; however, the concern is that these recordings may not be out of the reach of third-party apps like Facebook or WhatsApp who use this data to target you with customised, highly specific ads.

Jason Nurse, Assistant Professor in Cyber Security at the University of Kent explains this idea further, saying, “Imagine you have just started to think about where to go for your next holiday. You spend the morning visiting travel agents to discuss the latest deals and then visit your favourite restaurant, a popular Caribbean food chain in the city. Excited about your potential trip, later that night you watch mostly TV shows on the tropics. The next day, your social media feed contains flight, hotel and tour ads with deals to Barbados. Essentially, this is how data is gathered from your smart devices and then advertisers grab the opportunity to target you.”

Surely by now you’re asking, ‘Is all this legal?’ It absolutely is. Remember those terms and conditions you accepted without reading? This is where you’re agreeing to let companies share your data with third parties. Even with new laws that try to protect people’s information, tech firms are constantly looking to push the boundaries of data gathering and algorithm design in ways that can feel invasive.

There is a way to control what Google hears. Since it’s reliant on voice-activation when it hears the phrase ‘Hey Google’, disabling its access to your microphone would put a stop to the app listening and recording your voice. Tech website komando.com states that Google introduced a new My Account tool that lets you access your recordings and delete them if you want. You can also ask Google to permanently stop recording your voice.

Here’s how to turn off the "OK Google" wake phrase: On Android, just go to Settings >> Google >> Search >> Voice and turn “OK Google” detection off.

There is also a way to disable Facebook's access to your microphone. For Android users, go to Settings >> Applications >>Application Manager >> Facebook >> Permissions >> and then turn off the mic. Disabling this will affect how you use the app itself as some of its features will not be available, such as Live Video.

To be fair, these tech firms listen to your conversations to train their AI to be better at understanding you and delivering accurate results. It also streamlines their advertising campaigns to deliver online ads that are relevant to you. The problem is that they haven’t been entirely honest or forthcoming about how these technologies work, which has understandably angered a lot of people. However, if targeted ads and an accurate AI are not important to you, a simple fix is to just shut off these services as described above, or you could just watch what you say in the vicinity of your smartphone!

TECH NEWS

previous
The Best and Most Affordable Smartwatches Out Now

Want the best smartwatch on your wrist without breaking the bank?You’ve come to the right spot.We’ve created a watchlist of the best and most affordable smartwatches making waves right now.1.AppleIf you want to get a smartwatch to work as a companion to your iPhone, then the Apple Watch Series 9 offers excellent hands-free capabilities. Although it doesn’t have many changes from previous models, its improved Siri performance and sleek double-tap gesture simplify the management of notifications, music, and Apple Pay.You can track your health goals, and workouts, and even monitor your blood oxygen levels effortlessly. Plus, there are several strap options for ultimate personalisation and even an optional cellular version.2.Samsung For those in the Android camp, the Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 is a top contender. It has a lightweight design, smooth performance, and chic aesthetic, and allows you to track your sleep, heart rate, and blood pressure without missing a beat.Its added features like fall detection and emergency calling give you added peace of mind. There’s also the benefit of a battery that lasts up to two days and water resistance up to 1.5 meters, so you can take on whatever the day throws your way with confidence.3.Pixel Another option for Android users is Google's compact and user-friendly Pixel Watch 2. It boasts a responsive OLED display and seamless integration with Pixel phones and Fitbit programming. It also has a better processor that delivers smoother performance and a battery life that lasts for a full day between charges. Even though it doesn’t have all the features of other smartwatches, it is ideal for casual users, searching for a smartwatch that’s small and easy to use.4.Huawei If battery life is your top priority, then the Huawei GT 3 Pro is the watch for you. It has an impressive two-week battery life, which is leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors. Its sleek titanium body and comfortable leather strap give a more timeless feel, and the watch covers all essential health and fitness features like heart rate monitoring, GPS, and workout tracking. The app experience may not be as robust as other brands, however, if you’re prioritising battery life over things like payment apps, this a solid choice.5.The OG – Fitbit Fitbit has long been a favourite among fitness enthusiasts, and the Versa 4 is no exception. With up to six days of battery life, automatic exercise tracking, and water resistance, it's the perfect companion for your workouts. Plus, with Alexa integration and Fitbit Pay for contactless payments, staying connected on the go has never been easier. While it may not have all the bells and whistles of some other smartwatches, its built-in GPS and sleek design make it a top choice for fitness-focused individuals. It is also compatible with both iPhones and Androids and integrates Alexa for voice commands and smart home control.6.Honor Finally, if you are looking for a smartwatch that's as stylish as it is functional then Honor's latest offering ticks all the boxes. It has an eye-catching design, Bluetooth call capabilities, and a sensor array that measures important aspects like stress, blood oxygen level, heart rate, respiration, and sleep quality.While it may not have the extensive app options of its competitors, its premium design and functionality are on par with models like the Fitbit Versa 4 and Huawei Watch GT 3 and is a good option for those looking for a budget-friendly investment.Whether you're team Apple, Android, or somewhere in between, there's a smartwatch out there for everyone at Mondo.

Read More...

5 Essential Tech Accessories For Your New Smartphone

In our interconnected world, smartphones have evolved into indispensable tools, seamlessly integrating into every facet of our daily lives. From staying in touch with loved ones and keeping track of our busy schedules to monitoring our heart rate and blood pressure, these pocket-sized powerhouses can do it all.But why stop there? With the addition of select accessories, you can unlock even more potential and tailor your smartphone to match your unique needs and lifestyle. Here are 5 must-have tech enhancements that can turbocharge your device to the next level.1.Capture Every Moment with a Smartphone Camera Lens KitToday, smartphones boast impressive camera capabilities but there are still photographic feats beyond their reach. The smartphone camera lens kit is a compact and lightweight solution for unlocking a world of new shooting possibilities. They are a breeze to attach and work seamlessly with most smartphones, proving an affordable alternative to investing in a high-end camera.With options like wide-angle, fisheye, macro, and telephoto lenses, the kits enhances photo sharpness and clarity, and reduces distortion, catering to both casual enthusiasts and seasoned photographers.Prices can vary considerably, with budget-friendly options costing as little as R100, so it's worth doing your research to find the perfect fit for your needs.2.Never Misplace Your Smartphone Again with a Bluetooth TrackerThe frantic search for a misplaced smartphone is a familiar scenario for many. Enter Bluetooth trackers, compact devices that ensure you never lose track of your essentials again. By attaching them to your phone, keys, or wallet, you can leverage geotagging technology and proximity alerts to locate misplaced items swiftly. There are several budget-friendly options available on the market but the most popular Bluetooth tracker for iPhone users is the Apple's AirTag and the Tile Mate for Android users.3.Embrace Seamless Charging with Wireless Charging PadsBid farewell to tangled cables and cumbersome charging routines with wireless charging pads. These Qi-compatible pads offer fast, hassle-free charging for a range of smartphones and their compact design ensures they blend seamlessly into any environment, whether on your bedside table or desk.One of the best pads is the Belkin BoostCharge Pro Portable Wireless Charger Pad, which offers MagSafe compatibility, rapid charging, and convenient features at an affordable price point.4.Enhance Your Gaming Experience with a Mobile Gaming ControllerFor avid gamers, touchscreen controls can be a source of frustration but ergonomic accessories of a mobile gaming controller can provide tactile feedback and responsive buttons for immersive gaming sessions. The 8BitDo Pro 2 is one standout option, offering solid performance, customisable features, and compatibility across multiple iPhones and Android phones. With its rechargeable battery and versatile connectivity options, it's the perfect companion for gaming on the go, providing a competitive edge wherever you play. And the best part? It won't break the bank, priced at just R499.5.Extend Connectivity with USB OTG AdaptersWhether you're a tech enthusiast or seeking to streamline your digital workflow, USB adapters are indispensable accessories, offering flexibility, and convenience. They work by seamlessly connecting your device and transferring data between your device and USB peripherals like flash drives, keyboards, and external hard drives.Apple users will find the Lightning OTG adapter ideal for iOS 13 and later phone models, while Android users should consider Samsung’s OTG Adapter. Make sure you check your smartphone’s compatibility first, as not all adapters work with specific phone models.From photography to gaming and optimal connectivity, incorporating these 5 must-have tech accessories into your smartphone arsenal can enhance its capabilities, streamline your daily routines, and ensure your device remains a versatile companion in today's digital age.

Read More...

Do You Know What Your Car Warranty Should Cover?

Do You Know What Your Car Warranty Should Cover? Top 3 Things You Need To KnowAre you prepared for expensive repair costs if your vehicle suddenly breaks down? If your car is new and still covered by the Factory Warranty, you’re safe—for now. But what happens when that warranty expires?Unless you have an Extended Car Warranty when your vehicle is no longer protected by the standard Factory Warranty, you’ll be left paying hefty bills for mechanical breakdowns and electrical failures on your own.An Extended Car Warranty is your safety net against the unforeseen risk of parts failing, extending beyond the routine service plan or a wear and tear maintenance plan.However, many drivers are often left in the dark about what their car warranty covers, so we’re breaking down the top three things you need to know about your car warranty and helping you navigate the fine print.Your extended car warranty needs to cover: 1.PartsIf you don’t have spare cash to cover the cost of a new battery, water pump, clutch kit, compressor unit, or alternator, you’ll be left carless. These are some of the most common car parts prone to failure, and some of them can cost over R10,000 each, before labour.However, with an Extended Car Warranty, when your car experiences mechanical or electrical problems, you're financially protected.An Extended Car Warranty not only covers the costs of common parts but also safeguards you against the costs of repairing or replacing the most expensive components, such as complete engines and gearboxes, which can set you back tens of thousands of Rands.2.LabourWhen it comes to vehicle repairs, it's not just the cost of parts that add up—it's also the expense of skilled labour. That's why an Extended Car Warranty covers the associated labour costs.To ensure that repairs are carried out by reputable professionals, the warranty stipulates that labour must be performed by your preferred RMI (Retail Motor Industry Organisation) approved repair centre. RMI-certified professionals assure that the job will be done to the highest industry standards of quality, so you can get back on the road with confidence knowing you’re safe and protected.3.Transport & towing Towing and transportation services can be expensive if paid out of pocket, often exceeding R1 000 upfront, depending on the distance you need to travel. By having these benefits built into your motor warranty, you save a significant amount of money.With this service in place, you can breathe easier knowing that you won't be left stranded on the side of the road in the event of a breakdown. Plus, coordinating a tow or finding a rental car can be time-consuming and complicated, especially when you’re in the middle of an emergency. This service typically covers the cost of towing your vehicle to the nearest authorised repair facility, ensuring you’re not left alone to handle the logistics during a stressful situation.Roadwise Motor Warranty from DotsureMondo Financial’s RoadWise Motor Warranty, underwritten by Dotsure Limited, is regarded as one of the best Motor Warranty options available.You pay monthly based on your chosen plan, which you can cancel, upgrade, or downgrade at any time.Roadwise Motor Warranty covers up to 45 vehicle parts and pays claims directly to you within three days. It applies to newer vehicles with expired factory warranties and older vehicles, up to 15 years old or with up to 300,000 km mileage, that are more prone to mechanical and electrical issues due to wear and tear over time.Understanding your car warranty can save you and your hard-earned finances from unexpected repair costs and keep your vehicle in top shape.Secure your peace of mind with Mondo Financial’s RoadWise Motor Warranty.<Sign up today.>

Read More...

next