USA TODAY Tech columnist Kim Komando explains find out how to hold your units from listening to what you say.
Kim Komando, Particular for USA As we speak

Sure, voice know-how is superb. You possibly can ask your telephone a query. You’ll be able to speak to your speaker system and even guide an Uber. With the best setup, you’ll be able to verbally lock the doorways in your home, dim the lights, and alter the thermostat. All throughout America, individuals are embracing their oral fixation.

Digital assistants are useful, however they’re all the time listening. As extra producers and builders bounce onto the audio monitoring bandwagon, you could marvel how a lot your units are recording. And what occurs to the audio information they collect?

Worst of all: apps that use ultrasonic knowledge to profile you. You don’t hear the tones, however your system does. Extra about that later. Some common apps are designed to spy and report again recordings. Read more on five spy apps that could be on your phone watching and listening right now.

Creeped out? Many people are. Lots of consumers don’t trust their virtual assistants and wonder how to switch them off. If you’re worried about the privacy risks of your smartphone’s always-on microphone, here are tips on how to turn it off:


When you put the Facebook app on your phone, it requests access to your microphone. Why? Facebook needs to record your voice when you shoot live video. But some people are wary of this. Does the app only record you when you’re on camera? Or is Facebook “listening” through your microphone?

Facebook denies these claims, and there is no solid evidence to support this fear. But you are absolutely welcome to sever the tie between app and microphone. Many people have no use for this access anyway, so there’s nothing to lose by switching it off.

If you are an iPhone user, go to Settings >> Facebook >> Settings >> slide the Microphone switch to the left so it turns from green to white. That turns it off. Alternatively, you can go to Settings >> Privacy >> Microphone >> look for Facebook then do the same. Note that you can toggle the mic on and off for other apps, too.

For Android users: Try Settings >> Applications >> Application Manager >> look for Facebook >> Permissions >> Turn off the mic.

If you do decide to shoot video later on, just return to those settings and re-establish a connection to your mic. You can always switch it off again when you’re done.

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Amazon Echo

Is Amazon Echo always listening? Alexa is activated when it detects one of its wake words, which are “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Computer,” or “Echo.” You’ll know that the device is ready for a command when the outer ring at the top glows blue. But until that happens, Alexa always has open ears, waiting to be addressed.

When activated, Alexa allows you to search the web,…