Even if you often roll through the McDonald's drive-thru, you're likely not aware of just how closely the chain is keeping an eye (and ear) on you while you're there.
According to a recent viral TikTok post by a McDonald's employee in New Zealand, the drive-thru employees are getting a pretty clear audio broadcast from your car while you're waiting in line for your food. In a since-deleted video that was viewed over 320,000 times before disappearing, user @charlton.a claimed that McDonald's workers can "hear everything" you and your fellow passengers are saying in your car, even when their microphones are off.
When asked by another user to clarify how well the microphones work, the original poster said: "We can hear quite a bit but we can definitely hear all the passengers in the car too."
Even creepier? The video revealed that the chain takes a photo of you, which the employee referred to as a "mugshot," so they can more easily match you to your order. Yup, next time you're at the drive-thru window, you might want to say "cheese!"
However, McDonald's has chimed in on these claims and explained what they actually mean. The company told Indy100 that microphones are a necessary component of the drive-thru in order to clearly pick up the audio of your order, but that conversations picked up through it are never recorded. Additionally, the chain confirmed that it uses photographs to match orders to customers, but that the snaps will feature your car, not you or any of the individuals riding with you. McDonald's also doesn't retain those photos for any other use.
We've also reached out to McDonald's for comment and will update this article with any responses we receive.
McDonald's has very recently been scrutinized over privacy issues surrounding customer data. A few months ago, the chain began testing voice recognition software at several drive-thru locations in Chicago, Ill. but was soon challenged with a customer lawsuit that questioned the legality of collecting customer voice data without their consent.
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