On the heels of Apple and Google getting busted for listening to audio of users, a bombshell report just came out Tuesday that implicates Facebook in a similar scheme.
Facebook is no stranger to being reckless with users’ privacy.
They have exposed users’ private posts.
They actively uploaded 1.5 million users’ contacts without permission.
Facebook’s security was so lax that hackers used the platform to steal passwords from Facebook’s own users.
It should be no surprise, therefore, that Facebook has yet again played fast and loose with the private information of its users.
A breaking report from Bloomberg reveals that Facebook has been paying people to listen to audio of its own customers and then transcribe what they say.
“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,” Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier reports. “They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.”
Facebook responded like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar.
“Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer do so, following scrutiny into other companies,” Frier writes.
The contractors I talked to were concerned that what they were doing was unethical, after all of Facebook’s denials that it’s listening to you. Facebook didn’t tell them where the audio was from or what the transcription was supposed to help with.
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) August 13, 2019
“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” Facebook said Tuesday.
“The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed,” Frier writes. “The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized.”
Facebook’s repeated mantra has been to deny that they listen to users. Mark Zuckerberg explicitly denied that claim during his 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.”
“The Facebook data-use policy, revised last year to make it more understandable for the public, includes no mention of audio,” Frier notes. “It does, however, say Facebook will collect ‘content, communications and other information you provide’ when users ‘message or communicate with others.'”
Oh that’s all.
I feel comforted.
If Facebook cannot be trusted to handle our private conversations with honesty and integrity, why should we expect them to handle other more significant issues with fairness and transparency?
If Facebook will lie about listening to Uncle Larry talking about needing a new mattress, why wouldn’t they lie about ideological bias?
If Facebook will hide the fact they are eavesdropping on Mike as he tells his girlfriend how to get to the ball-field, what is stopping them from misleading the world about politically motivated censorship?
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