Is there anyone left out there who still thinks social media is a good thing? Obviously, there’s a fair chance you found this article via a social media posting, so I’ll admit it it still has its uses, but… Does anyone subscribe to the idea that the trade-off between privacy and public access is beneficial to the end user?
I doubt it. I suspect that, between censorship issues and privacy concerns, we’re about to cross something of a “social media Rubicon.” People looking for ways to engage with their audience are looking for ways around giants like Facebook and Twitter, while the rest of us are just sick of the whole thing.
It’s unlikely that you needed another reason to distance yourself from Zuckerberg’s Frankenstein but, in case you did, we have this. Facebook has been recording your audio, and it has a small army of people who have been transcribing it. Why?
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Well, Facebook has offered an explanation. The problem is that they lie so often no one really believes anything they say anymore. As Bloomberg reports:
Facebook Inc. has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users of its services, according to people with knowledge of the work.
The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained — only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.
Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized.
You’re oh-so-totally anonymous. Anyone buying that? I suspect not.
The reason we’re all so skeptical might be that Facebook’s pseudo-founder has a history of statements that are, shall we say, ‘dubious’ at best. As Bloomberg points out, the news of transcription comes dangerously close to contradicting Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 congressional testimony.
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The social networking giant, which just completed a $5 billion settlementwith the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after a probe of its privacy practices, has long denied that it collects audio from users to inform ads or help determine what people see in their news feeds. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg denied the idea directly in Congressional testimony.
“You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads,” Zuckerberg told U.S. Senator Gary Peters in April 2018. “We don’t do that.”
Taken at face value, that seems like a lie. In ‘Clinton-esque’ terms, it’s not. The wiggle room here is in the idea that they’re using the recordings to target ads and content. You’ll note he never claims you’re not being recorded. He only says that your PC, phone, or tablet mic is not being used for advertisement or to assist the infamous content algorithm.
It’s entirely possible that not one snippet of audio is being used to send commercials or posts your way. However, given all of Facebook’s other lies and half-truths, one wonders what precisely is being used for. They’ve proven themselves untrustworthy in the past.
Are you really willing to believe that they’re keeping your data anonymous or that they’re not sharing it with anyone else?
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