Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are always listening unless you change those settings

I use my voice to get a lot done. Siri sets meetings for me, mutes my phone, and more. Tap or click for five simple voice commands you’ll use all the time.

An Amazon Echo can help you find your phone, lock the front door, and drop by to chat with loved ones. Tap or click for the things I always ask Alexa for help with.

What’s the downside of always-on devices waiting for commands? Almost all voice-activated technology uses microphones that listen for “wake words.” That means they’re technically always listening.

If you want to take control of your privacy, here’s how to stop your smart devices from listening.

thwart facebook

Facebook sometimes requests access to the microphone for video chats and text-to-speech purposes. You may not feel comfortable giving Facebook control of your microphone. You can follow these steps for any app you want to block microphone access for.

Note: There are many Android manufacturers, so the steps outlined in this article may differ from your model. In this case, refer to your model’s online manual.

For iPhone:

  • open that settings apartment Then scroll down and tap Facebook.
  • Toggle the green switch next to Microphone to out Position.

You can also follow these steps:

  • open that settings apartment Then scroll down and tap Privacy & Security.
  • Locate the menu labeled microphone and tap on it.
  • Find Facebook in the list of apps and toggle the green switch to out Position.

For Android:

  • open that settings app, then tap applications.
  • Tap on the app you want to change, in this case Facebook.
  • Choose Permissions. To change a permission setting, tap it, then choose from these options: Allow only when using the app, Ask every time, or Don’t allow.

If you decide to record a video or chat with a friend, return to these settings and enable your microphone. You can always turn it off again when you’re done.

A Facebook logo.

A Facebook logo.
(Reuters photos)

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Stop Voice Assistant

It’s well known that virtual assistants can pick up snippets of private conversations if you say something that sounds like the wake word. One study outlined 1,000 phrases that tripped up Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google.

If you are worried about your gadget microphone always on, here are the steps to turn it off. Just know that you are trading some convenience for privacy.

Amazon Echo

  • On your Echo device, look for the button that looks like a microphone or a crossed-out circle.
  • Press the button. This prevents the device from conducting voltage through the interior of the microphone.
  • If you want to use Alexa, just press the button again. You can turn off the microphone at any time when not in use or during a private conversation.

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Siri

  • open that settings App on your iPhone. Scroll down and tap Siri & Search.
  • Toggle the green switch next to Listen for ‘Hey Siri’ out Position.
  • You can rotate too out Allow Siri when locked to prevent Siri from waking up when a button is pressed in your pocket.
The new AirPods offer the convenience of "Hello Siri" This makes it easier to switch songs, make a call, adjust the volume, or get directions.

The new AirPods offer the convenience of “Hey Siri,” making it easier to switch songs, make a call, adjust the volume, or get directions.
(Apple)

Google Assistant

On Android:

  • open that settings App on your phone, then select applications.
  • Under General, tap assistantthen View all Assistant settings.
  • From here you can click the switch to spin out “Hello Google.”

On iOS:

  • open that settings apartment Scroll down and tap Privacy & Security.
  • Locate the menu labeled microphone and tap on it.
  • Find Google Assistant in the list of apps and toggle the green switch to out Position.

Cortana on Windows 10

  • press the Start menu buttonthen settings.
  • click privacy > voice activation.
  • Locate microphone on the left and click on it.
  • Scroll down to Cortana and toggle microphone permission out.

Cortana on Windows 11

  • press the Start menu buttonthen settings.
  • click Privacy & Security > voice activation.
  • Allow access to voice activation services under Apps, Disable Cortana.

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List of intelligent security systems

Even home security devices always have listening microphones. You can disable audio recording on two popular home security devices: Google Nest and Amazon Ring.

Google nest

  • open that nest app on your smartphone and select it camera on the home screen.
  • Loss settings.
  • Choose microphone. Then tap the switch to turn it on out.

amazon ring

  • open that ring App on your smartphone and select the device you want to mute.
  • Loss device settings followed by video settings.
  • Tap the audio streaming and recording toggle to rotate it out the microphone.
Nest Learning Thermostat with Google logo in smart home in Lafayette, California, January 17, 2021.

Nest Learning Thermostat with Google logo in smart home in Lafayette, California, January 17, 2021.
(Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

your smart TV

If you want to stop your smart TV from listening to you and scanning your channel browsing history, check out our in-depth guide on how to disable these features on TVs from Samsung, VIZIO, LG and more.

Tap or click here to see the easiest ways to stop your Smart TV from tracking you

Keep your technical knowledge up to date

My favorite podcast is called Kim Komando Today. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips and tech callers like you from across the country. Look for it wherever you get your podcasts. For convenience, click the link below to view a recent episode.

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You’ll also learn how smart water technology can save you big bucks, know which files hackers use most, top five tech gadgets stealing your privacy and callers like you.

Watch my Kim Komando Today podcast on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for my last name “Komando”.

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Get more technical know-how on The Kim Komando Show, aired on over 425 radio stations and available as a podcast. Sign up for Kim’s 5-minute free morning roundup for the latest security breaches and tech updates. Do you need help? Leave your question for Kim here.

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