Does Instagram spy on you? We try to deactivate the microphone and this is what happens

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The controversy is served. Last November, we verified in our own flesh how Instagram even advertised in the application products and services supposedly obtained through keywords enunciated through the mobile microphone.

At this point, it is logical to think of deactivating the microphone through system permissions as a possible solution to prevent Instagram from accessing our spoken conversations. What would really happen if we deactivated the microphone within the application? This is what we have tried to do for three weeks ... The result will surprise you.

What happens to Instagram advertising if I turn off the microphone?

Neither short nor lazy. After deactivating the microphone through the Android Security section, the first thing we can see is a warning in the form of a pop-up window. The notice in question says that some of the functions of the application will be limited .

And so it is. We cannot upload Stories. We are also unable to send voice memos. Not even upload videos that we have previously recorded with other applications. In short: we cannot create or share content. Ignoring this detail, the use of the application is not different from that of the application with all its functions: we can see and share Stories of other users, comment on publications and follow third-party profiles. The main and only change starts with advertising .

From the last week of December until today, January 14, 2020, advertising on Instagram Stories and the application feed has been limited to showing what we have previously consulted through other applications . Not an iota of product or service that we mentioned in a conversation ... Well, actually yes.

Does Instagram spy on you?  We try to deactivate the microphone and this is what happens 1

The first jacket ad unit in the image starts showing the next day. The second, just a few minutes from the conversation (5:42 am).

Dec. 24. Or rather, early morning on the 25th. It is Christmas in Spain and other countries. The application sets off alarms and reveals what we wanted to verify from the beginning: that the microphone was supposedly still active in the background. An acquaintance mentions in a conversation that he has lost his jacket at a local and that he is going home to get another piece of clothing to keep warm. Just a few minutes later, Instagram begins to show a series of ads in the form of Stories and promoted posts , as we can see in the screenshots.

Several days later, on the eve of the Three Kings Day, another acquaintance begins to mention some of the options he is considering to give to his family members. One of these options consists of a personalized t-shirt that you have designed through Photoshop and a mug with a phrase in the style of “Mr. Wonderful ”. A few hours after mentioning both articles, Instagram begins to launch all its artillery through the same elements that we mentioned earlier.

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Both of the custom t-shirt ad units are displayed within hours of the original conversation.

Until today, when Instagram is limited to showing advertising related to our interests and those searches or elements that we have mentioned in other applications.

Why does Instagram keep showing related advertising?

The eternal doubt. Instagram, like Facebook and WhatsApp, monopolizes a series of permissions that it uses to obtain advertising and offer its users a personalized experience , which generally translates into targeted ads.

Beyond permissions such as the camera or the microphone, Instagram records the activity we carry out within the system at all times . This is reflected in its data policy that we can consult at the following link.

Taking hold of some of the points mentioned, we can observe three clauses that confirm the aforementioned. The three clauses define the following:

Device operations: information about the operations and behaviors performed on the device, such as putting a window in the foreground or background , or mouse movements (allowing you to distinguish humans from bots).

Identifiers: unique identifiers, device and other identifiers (for example, of games, applications or accounts that you use) and Family Device ID (or other identifiers that belong exclusively to the Products of the Facebook companies and are linked to the same account or the same device).

Cookie data : data from cookies stored on the device , including cookie settings and identifiers.

The first and second points make mention of Instagram's right to collect information about everything that is done on the phone , even about activities that are superimposed on the application. It also confirms the total knowledge by the application of all those accounts registered in the system, as well as the applications and games installed on the device.

Regarding the information of cookies, the application reserves the right to use this source to obtain data from searches that we have carried out in other applications , such as Google Chrome or Twitter. In short: a full-fledged Big Brother.

The conclusion: don't try to put fences on the field

Banning the use of the microphone to Instagram does not prevent the application from obtaining data from our profile through other applications. WhatsApp and Facebook are the battle partners of Instagram: if one falls, the other two will try to make up for the deficiencies of the first .

We have not found another logical reason for the fact that Instagram continues to show us segmented advertising without having made a prior consultation on the theme that the application shows us. The only viable solution is to veto any process, application and service that comes from Facebook in all its forms: WhatsApp, WhatsApp Business, Instagram, IGTV, Instagram Lite, Layout for Instagram, Facebook, Facebook Messenger. In our case we only have WhatsApp Business, and it seems to have been enough to segment the advertising