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Cox Media Group might be turning your talks into targeted ads

Your phone might be listening to you in order to serve you ads. Creepy af.

cox logo on blurred background

Imagine chatting about needing a vacation, and voila, your phone serves up ads for tropical getaways. Is it creepy coincidence or cunning tech?

Apps on Google Play and the App Store have had recent issues with data privacy, but this revelation is even more sinister.

Joseph Cox over at 404 Media just dropped a bombshell about Cox Media Group (CMG), a major player in the media landscape that’s apparently been eavesdropping on its customer’s conversations to serve them ads.

They’ve dubbed it “Active Listening,” which sounds less like a feature and more like that one friend who overhears everything.

But here’s the kicker: CMG claims it’s all legal, thanks to those ‘Terms and Conditions’ we never read.

Do you think your phone is listening to you to serve ads? You might be right

A person holds a cell phone.
Image: Pexels

Now, CMG isn’t just some small fry; they’re part of Apollo Global Management and Cox Enterprise, including Cox Communications. They’ve got their fingers in many pies, from news stations to ISPs.

The pitch is simple: target ads to folks based on their day-to-day gab. Think your AC’s on the fritz or musing about mortgage rates? CMG’s tech is supposedly ready to pick up on those hints and send relevant ads your way.

The tech was promoted with examples like “car lease ending” or “need a better mortgage rate,” and clients could “claim” territories for their ad campaigns.

The concept is to analyze conversations through AI and then bombard those poor souls with tailored ads via streaming services, YouTube, and search engines.

As for the legal mumbo jumbo, CMG’s stance is that it’s all above board because we gave them the green light when we clicked ‘agree’ on some app we’ve already forgotten about.

But here’s where it gets juicier: After 404 Media shined a spotlight on this, references to Active Listening magically vanished from CMG’s site.

Meanwhile, on Reddit, someone’s waving red flags about privacy invasion, and in the Tampa Bay Times, there’s a buzz about a lawsuit involving CMG and allegations of rating manipulation.

So, while CMG’s website once boasted about ROI and invited inquiries on LinkedIn, those calls for comments have gone unanswered. Even their partners like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are keeping mum.

While CMG’s legal team might argue it’s all copacetic because we clicked ‘agree’ at some point, it doesn’t quite sit right with the court of public opinion.

Representatives for CMG did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Have any thoughts on this? Drop us a line below in the comments, or carry the discussion to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Kevin is KnowTechie's founder and executive editor. With over 15 years of blogging experience in the tech industry, Kevin has transformed what was once a passion project into a full-blown tech news publication. Shoot him an email at kevin@knowtechie.com or find him on Mastodon or Post.

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