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Privacy

Here’s how Facebook is actually listening to you

It’s happened to all of us. You have an innocent conversation and some random topic pops up, like cat food or Luke Skywalker. A while later, Facebook shows you ads for Fancy Feast and “Star Wars” or even a strange combination of the two.

If you never typed these terms into the search bar, you might suspect Facebook of listening to conversations through smartphone microphones. After all, our smart devices like Google Assistant, Siri and Amazon Echo are always listening for the wake word, and they often overhear more than they should. Tap or click here to stop all your smart devices from listening to you.

Don’t fall too deep down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories. There’s never been hard evidence, and Facebook has long denied that practice. Frankly, it would be difficult for any entity to record and analyze hundreds of millions of random chats.

It all comes down to connected apps

Companies like Facebook don’t need to listen in because they already know you, inside and out. It all comes down to what you do in their apps and websites. Facebook gets everything it needs from your posts and searches, as well as the Pages and Groups you engage with.

For example, if you join a buy nothing group, Facebook can guess you value sustainability and affordability. This detail goes into its highly specific profile of who you are as a person. Tap or click here to find out how buy nothing groups are safe ways to get free stuff in your neighborhood.

Facebook also knows what you do elsewhere because you might have connected apps that share your data. All of this information goes straight into its profile of you. To take back some of your privacy, follow this two-step plan of attack.

1. First, you need to see all the third-party groups you added to Facebook over the years

Luckily, this isn’t hard. Follow these steps to see the apps and games you have added to Facebook. The steps differ slightly depending on the way you’re accessing Facebook, which is why we split it into three sections.

Here’s what to do on your computer

  • Click the downward arrow in the top right of Facebook.
  • First, tap Settings & Privacy.
  • Then, select Settings.
  • Lastly, hit Apps and Websites in the left side menu.

What to do on your Facebook app on Android

First, go to the top right corner of Facebook and tap the three horizontal lines.

  • Select Settings & Privacy.
  • Click Settings.
  • Scroll down to Security, then click Apps and Websites.
  • Lastly, select Logged in with Facebook.

RELATED: Stop Facebook from eating up your storage and draining your battery

Do you use the Facebook app on your iPhone? Do this

First, go to the bottom right corner of Facebook. Tap the three horizontal lines.

  • First, tap the three-line menu in the lower right
  • Select Settings & Privacy.
  • Then, click Settings.
  • Scroll down to the Permissions section.
  • Then, click Apps and Websites.

Now that you know which apps are connected to your Facebook, you can remove them all.

2. Remove these connected apps from Facebook

The best way to get more privacy is to stop these apps from communicating with each other. Right now, they have a vast network they use to share your data. Think of all of these interconnected apps as a group of gossipers who like to spill your secrets and talk about you.

Stop the gossip, so to speak, and cut off these apps from one another. To do this, you’ll pick up from where you left off on the previous step. Once you’ve followed those steps and you’re viewing each of the apps connected to Facebook, you need to remove them. Follow these steps to get the job done.

On a computer

Once you reach Apps and Websites, you see a long list of the many apps and websites connected to Facebook. For instance, here’s what I saw when I headed to this page:

These were only the apps at the top. There were a lot more I couldn’t even recognize.

I could barely recognize half of the websites and apps connected to Facebook. Some of them I hadn’t used for five years. I hit Remove next to each app to stop them from collecting my data and sharing information with Facebook.

Removing apps also stops them from posting to your timeline. Here’s how to remove apps and websites if you’re working on a mobile device.

How to give connected apps the boot on Android

First, open the Facebook app. Then, in the top right corner, tap the three horizontal lines. From there, follow these steps:

  • Select Settings & Privacy, then hit Settings.
  • Under the Security section, select Apps and Websites.
  • Here you can pick the app or website that you want to remove.
  • Below its name, tap Remove.

RELATED: 9 apps caught stealing Facebook passwords – Delete them now

Follow these steps if you have an iPhone

Open the Facebook app on your iPhone. In the bottom right corner, tap the three horizontal lines. Then, do this:

  • First, tap Settings & Privacy.
  • Second, select Settings.
  • Third, under Permissions, tap Apps and Websites.
  • Select the app or website that you want to remove.
  • Finally, tap Remove to seperate it from Facebook for good.

Removing an app from the App Center means it can no longer access your data. However, this doesn’t delete the data the app already has on you — it just prevents future sharing. It may still have a profile in its records, so contact the developer directly to ask them to delete their info.

Apps you remove from the App Center may still send you emails. Just open any unwanted emails and click the unsubscribe button. If you deal with a lot of email spam and need some in-depth help, we’ve got you covered.

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