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Unless you change these settings, Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are always listening.

I get a lot done by using my voice. Siri schedules meetings for me, silences my phone, and does a variety of other tasks. Five simple voice commands that you’ll use all the time are available by tapping or clicking.

An Amazon Echo can help you find your phone, lock the front door, and check in with family and friends. Tap or click on the items I always ask Alexa to assist me with.

What are the drawbacks of always-on devices that wait for commands? Almost all voice-activated technology employs microphones that detect “wake words.” That is to say, they are always listening.

Here’s how to stop your smart devices from listening if you want to regain control of your privacy.

Fail Facebook Facebook occasionally requests microphone access for video chatting and text-to-speech purposes. You might not feel comfortable giving Facebook access to your microphone. You can use these steps to restrict mic access for any app.

Because there are numerous Android manufacturers, the steps outlined in this article may differ depending on your model. If this is the case, consult your model’s online manual.

For the iPhone:

• Launch the Settings application. Scroll down and select Facebook.

• Turn off the microphone by toggling the green switch next to it.

You can also take the following steps:

• Launch the Settings application. Scroll down and select Privacy & Security.

• Locate and select the Microphone menu.

• Locate Facebook in the list of apps and turn the green switch off.

For Android users:

• Launch the Settings app, then select Apps.

• Select the app you want to modify, in this case Facebook.

• Select Permissions. To change a permission setting, tap it and then select one of the following options: Allow only while using the app, Always ask, or Never allow.

Return to these settings and enable your microphone if you want to record a video or chat with a friend. When you’re finished, you can always turn it off again.

Turning off voice assistants
Virtual assistants can pick up on snippets of private conversations if you say something that sounds like the wake word. One study identified 1,000 phrases that confounded Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google.

If you’re concerned about your device’s always-on microphone, follow these steps to disable it. Just keep in mind that you’re giving up some convenience for some privacy.

Amazon Echo • Locate the button that looks like a microphone or a circle with a line through it on your Echo device.

• Depress the button. This prevents the device from passing voltage through the internals of the microphone.

• To use Alexa, simply press the button once more. When not in use or during a private conversation, you can always turn off the microphone.

• Launch the Settings app on your iPhone. Scroll to the bottom and select Siri & Search.

• Toggle the green switch next to “Listen for ‘Hey Siri'” to off.

• You can also disable Allow Siri When Locked to prevent Siri from activating if a button in your pocket is pressed.

On Android, Google Assistant:

• Open your phone’s Settings app, then select Apps.

• Select Assistant, then See All Assistant Settings from the General menu.

• From here, you can disable “Hey Google” by clicking the toggle.

On iOS:

• Launch the Settings application. Scroll to the bottom and select Privacy & Security.

• Locate and select the Microphone menu.

• Locate Google Assistant in the list of apps and turn the green switch off.

Cortana on Windows 10 • Select Settings from the Start Menu.

• Navigate to Privacy > Voice Activation.

• Locate and click Microphone on the left-hand panel.

• Scroll down to Cortana and turn off the Microphone permission.

Cortana on Windows 11 • Select Settings from the Start Menu.

• Select Privacy & Security > Voice Activation from the menu.

• Disable Cortana under Allow apps to access voice activation services.

Smart security systems pay attention as well.
Even home security systems have microphones that are always listening. Google Nest and Amazon Ring are two popular home security devices that allow you to disable audio recording.

• Launch the Nest app on your smartphone and select the camera from the home screen.

• Select Settings.

• Choose Microphone. Then, to turn it off, tap the switch.

• Launch the Ring app on your smartphone and select the device you want to mute.

• Select Device Settings, then Video Settings.

• To disable the microphone, tap the Audio Streaming and Recording toggle.

Your smart television
Check out our detailed guide to disabling these features on TVs made by Samsung, VIZIO, LG, and others if you want to stop your smart TV from listening to you and scanning your channel-surfing history.

Tap or click here to learn how to stop your smart TV from tracking you.

Maintain your technological knowledge.
“Kim Komando Today” is the name of my popular podcast. It’s a solid 30 minutes of tech news, tips, and callers from all over the country with tech questions like yours. Look for it wherever you listen to podcasts. For your convenience, you can view a recent episode by clicking on the link below.

PODCAST PICK: Cops on Facebook, ChatGPT drama, and top scams on the rise

In addition, learn how to save big money with smart water technology, which files hackers most commonly use, and the five worst tech gadgets that steal your privacy and callers like you.

Listen to my podcast “Kim Komando Today” on Apple, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast player.

Listen to the podcast here or wherever podcasts are available. Simply look up my surname, “Komando.”

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