Nearly two-thirds of people believe their phone is spying on them

The idea that our technology is spying on us is a scary thought.

By Stephanie Bateman
Wednesday, 10 July, 2019, 12:06

We’d like to think we are safe using phones and laptops in the comfort of our homes, but new research reveals a third (33%) of Brits think it is likely that their phone listens to their conversations.

In a survey of 2,000 UK adults, by The UK’s largest independent tech retailer Ebuyer, over a quarter (26%) said that after speaking about a new product, TV show or item, they saw an advert appear for the topic on their social media feeds.

Is Big Brother watching us?

Brits are most suspicious of Facebook, with nearly half (45%) of the respondents believing that the company is listening to them. But other social channels are also considered untrustworthy, with almost a fifth of Brits thinking Instagram and Whatsapp (both 18%) are monitoring conversations too.

Interestingly, 25-34-year-olds, who are often assumed to be one of the most tech-savvy generations, are the most untrusting of their phones, with 63% of them believing they’re being listened to.

As people get older, they generally grow less suspicious of technology, with the 35-44 olds (48%) and 45-54 (22%) age categories both more trusting of their devices.

The exception to this pattern is the youngest age category (18-24-year-olds), who are actually the least suspicious of technology. Just one in six (16%) respondents from this age group, thinks their phone listens to them speak.

To understand why so many Brits feel this way, Ebuyer asked the nation to share the experiences that have made them believe that their phones are listening in.

Jamie, 25, has had adverts target him on several occasions: “It’s scary the number of times you talk about something during the day with a friend, and then later on an advert for that exact thing pops up on your phone. It’s hard to believe it’s just a coincidence! I guess if the monitoring results in me seeing more relevant adverts, that’s not necessarily a bad thing (even if it would mean me spending more), but it is a bit worrying to think that we might be being listened to.”

Vicky, 30, shared an experience of her phone acting strange: “I remember when I was sleeping one night and Siri turned on randomly around 2am. He started saying: ‘Sorry, I didn’t understand that’ as if someone was speaking to him. It really freaked me out and I quickly switched my phone off!”

Rachel, 28, was targeted by a brand she was talking about earlier in the day: “I was talking to my friend about her new teeth, and how great Invisalign is. I’ve never searched for anything teeth related before because I don’t want to get mine done, but after the conversation, I was being targeted by Invisalign and similar dentistry products.”

Lee Weymouth, Commercial Director at Ebuyer said: “The survey shows that people are generally distrusting of social media and technology, despite so many of us continuing to use it every day. Technology is growing increasingly clever and there are certainly times where it seems as if it is monitoring our every move!”

To read an experts opinion on whether technology is listening to us click here: