Is your phone really listening to your conversations? Well, turns out it doesn’t have to

Have you ever chatted with a friend about buying an item and been targeted with an ad for that same item the next day? If so, you may wonder whether your smartphone was listening to you.

Well, it’s no coincidence the item you were interested in was the same one you were targeted with. But that doesn’t mean your device is actually listening to your conversations — it doesn’t need to. There’s a good chance you’re already giving it all the information it needs.

Most of us regularly disclose our information to a wide range of websites and apps. We do this when we grant them permissions or allow cookies to track our online activities. Third-party cookies are created by domains external to the site you’re visiting.

The third-party will often be a marketing company in a partnership with the first-party website or app. The latter will host the marketer’s ads and grant it access to data it collects from you, which you will have given it permission to do.

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