Tracking terror

Smartphones suspected to track, listen in on users


Graphic by Peyton Sims

Story by Peyton Sims, staff writer

From the moment you leave for school to the moment you arrive home, your phone tracks your every step without you even knowing. Have you ever received an alert on your phone that states “take this route, the traffic is light,” or “the quickest route to school is…?” If the location of your phone is turned on, apps like GPS Phone and Locate Any Phone are great with tracking mobile phones, even when the phone is not connected to the internet. You can know the GPS coordinates of a phone number within seconds. However, multiple people find the idea that they can be tracked every second unsettling.

There are multiple pros to our phones tracking us at all times. Our phones are able to show us the quickest routes home, what roads have the least amount of traffic, how long it will take to arrive at a specific location, what shopping centers are closest to you and more. This makes smartphone users lives much easier and grants them a high level of convenience.  

However, many people are constantly frightened that they are being tracked and watched at all times without their consent. In the app settings, you can turn off your location, but this will only stop Google from keeping up with your location. Other apps can still have access to your location regardless.

“I think phones track us because they have a camera that is always on. I’ve seen Shane Dawson’s conspiracy videos that talk about this,” sophomore Darby Robertson said. “Our phones can see where we are at all times and they are always listening in on our conversations, and if our location is on, they can track us that way, too.”

Along with tracking, phones appear to always be listening. Have you ever been discussing some appliance you wanted or something you were considering purchasing? Chances are, following that conversation you received ads about the same topics you were just talking about.

The apps Instagram and Facebook are both owned by Facebook, and many app users have reported receiving ads about their personal interests or something they previously mentioned in a conversation. However, the companies have stated they do not use microphones to suggest ads to people. Instead, they base advertisements off of photos we like, people we follow and accounts related to ours.

“My friends and I were all jamming out in the music room and we were singing the song ‘All of Me,’ but I didn’t know the lyrics to a certain part of the song so we stopped to look up the lyrics,” sophomore Christian Rogers said.  “I went to Google and typed in the letter ‘A’ and the very first result on autocomplete was ‘All of Me’ lyrics.”