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Facebook to make Messenger more secure, but is it eavesdropping on you?

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Facebook Messenger

Facebook is reportedly preparing to add end-to-end encryption to its Facebook Messenger app.

A Guardian report says there’ll be a roll out pushed out in the nexts few months, with users able to opt-in to the security boost.

However, despite the improvement offering a boon to users seeking to keep their chats private, it may inhibit their ability to make use of the company’s new chatbots.

By encrypting chats, it would make it more difficult for users to engage with the machine learning services that are likely to make it easier to order concert tickets, flowers and the like.

While Facebook seems occupied with protecting users from unsolicited prying, more reports today suggested the firm may be eavesdropping for its own purposes.

Following reports last week claiming Facebook is tracking non-account holders around the web, one professor now believes Facebook may be listening in on members’ phone calls.

See also: Are Bots the future of the internet

Kelli Burns, mass communication professor at the University of South Florida, believes the Facebook app may be gathering data on what people's are talking to each other about.

The Facebook app uses the device's microphone to gather information about ‘what’s going on around the phone’ in order to suggest music and video they may like to post about.

Professor Burns says this feature, which is only available in the US right now, could easily be used to serve users with ads and news story suggestions.

Burns said she tested the theory by speaking about certain topics within earshot of the app, only to see related ads show up on her page.

Facebook has denied the microphone is being used to spy on users conversations.

“Facebook does not use microphone audio to inform advertising or News Feed stories in any way," a spokesperson told The Independent.

"Businesses are able to serve relevant ads based on people’s interests and other demographic information, but not through audio collection.”

In order to prevent Facebook listening in on anything, it’s necessary to turn off revoke the Facebook app’s access microphone in the device privacy settings.

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