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News Smart devices are always listening unless you change these settings

I use my voice for a lot of things. Siri schedules meetings for me, silences my phone, and more.

Tap or click five simple voice commands you’ll use all the time.

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

What are the disadvantages of an always-on device listening for commands? Almost all voice-activated technology uses a microphone to listen for a “wake word.” This means technically, they are always listening.

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

thwart facebook

Facebook sometimes requests access to the microphone for video chat and text-to-speech. You might not want to let Facebook control your microphone. You can follow these steps for any app that wants to block microphone access.

NOTE: There are many Android manufacturers, so the steps outlined in this article may be different for your model. If so, check your model’s online manual.

For iPhones:

● Open the Settings application. Then, scroll down and tap Facebook.
● Switch the green switch next to the microphone to the off position.

You can also follow these steps:

● Open the Settings application. Then, scroll down and tap Privacy and Security.
● Find the menu labeled Microphone and click on it.
● Find Facebook in the list of applications and toggle the green switch to the off position.

For Android:

● Open the Settings application, and tap Apps.
● Click on the application you want to change, in this case Facebook.
● Select Permissions. To change a permission setting, tap it and choose from the following options: Allow only while using the app, Ask every time, or Don’t allow.

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

stop voice assistant

Virtual assistants have been known to intercept snippets of private conversations if you say something that sounds like a wake word. One study listed 1,000 phrases that make Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google go wrong.

If you’re concerned about your gadget’s always-on microphone, here’s how to turn it off. Just know that you are trading some convenience for privacy.

Amazon echo:

● On your Echo device, find the button that looks like a microphone or a circle with a line.
● Press the button. This prevents the device from passing voltage internally through the microphone.
● If you want to use Alexa, just press the button again. You can always turn off the microphone when not in use or during private conversations.

Siri:

● Open the Settings app on your iPhone. Scroll down and tap Siri & Search.
● Toggle the green switch next to “Listen to ‘Hey Siri'” to the off position.
● You can also turn off Allow Siri When Locked to prevent Siri from activating when you press a button in your pocket.

Google Assistant:

On Android:

● Open the Settings app on your phone, and select Apps.
● Under General, click Assistant, then click View all Assistant settings.
● Here you can click the switch to turn off “Hey Google”.

On iOS:

● Open the Settings application. Scroll down and tap Privacy and Security.
● Find the menu labeled Microphone and click on it.
● Find Google Assistant in the list of applications and toggle the green switch to the off position.

Cortana on Windows 10:

● Click the Start Menu button, then click Settings.
● Click Privacy > Voice Activation.
● Find Microphone in the left panel and click on it.
● Scroll down to Cortana and toggle Microphone Permissions to Off.

Cortana on Windows 11:

● Click the Start Menu button, then click Settings.
● Click Privacy & Security > Voice Activation.
● Under Let apps access voice-activated services, disable Cortana.

Smart security systems listen too

Even home security devices have ready-to-listen microphones. You can disable audio recordings on two popular home security devices: Google Nest and Amazon Ring.

Google Nest:

● Open the Nest app on your smartphone and select Camera on the home screen.
● Click Settings.
● Select Microphone. Then, tap the switch to turn it off.

Amazon Ring:

● Open the Ring app on your smartphone and select the device you want to mute.
● Click Device Settings, then click Video Settings.
● Tap the audio streaming and recording switches to turn off the microphone.

Your Smart TV:

If you want to stop your smart TV from listening to you and scanning your channel browsing history, check out our detailed guide on how to disable these features on TVs made by Samsung, Vizio, LG, and more.

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

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s National Radio Show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch The Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, TV or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcast.

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