Are we being surveilled by our devices? I don’t know for sure. Important people at Facebook and Amazon insist their apps are not snooping on us. They swear their apps only access your microphone with your permission, and only when you’re using the app. But I can’t say I’ve ever been 100% convinced by their responses.
And it gets a little eerie when the advertising on our devices resembles what you were just talking about with your friends. One minute you’re chatting about how you miss eating at Outback, and the next minute, your browser is filled with mail-order steak ads. Is Big Tech listening in, 24-7? Or is coincidence combining with constant marketing to create paranoia?
Whatever the answer, you should know that you can review your device’s Microphone permissions at any time. Your computer/tablet/phone will tell you which apps have access to your microphone.
For PCs, check out the steps on this page: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4468232/windows-10-camera-microphone-and-privacy
Apple computer users, read: https://support.apple.com/guide/mac-help/control-access-to-your-microphone-on-mac-mchla1b1e1fe/mac
On an Android phone or tablet, try going to Settings -> Privacy -> Permission Manager -> Microphone. For iPhones and iPads, it would be Settings -> Privacy -> Microphone.
With these settings in front of you, you can revoke any app’s permission to use your microphone. And you can give it back, later, as desired. Feel free to experiment with these, if it gives you a little extra peace of mind.