Commentary

Yes, Facebook Has Been Listening to Users and Writing Down What They Say

Combined Shape

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.

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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.

“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” Facebook said Tuesday.

Do you trust Facebook not to censor political content?

“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.”

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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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G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal.
G.S. Hair is the former executive editor of The Western Journal and vice president of digital content of Liftable Media.

After graduating law school from the Cecil C. Humphries School of Law, Mr. Hair spent a decade as an attorney practicing at the trial and appellate level in Arkansas and Tennessee. He represented clients in civil litigation, contractual disputes, criminal defense and domestic matters. He spent a significant amount of time representing indigent clients who could not afford private counsel in civil or criminal matters. A desire for justice and fairness was a driving force in Mr. Hair's philosophy of representation. Inspired by Christ’s role as an advocate on our behalf before God, he often represented clients who had no one else to fight on their behalf.

Mr. Hair has been a consultant for Republican political candidates and has crafted grassroots campaign strategies to help mobilize voters in staunchly Democrat regions of the Eastern United States.

In early 2015, he began writing for Conservative Tribune. After the site was acquired by Liftable Media, he shut down his law practice, moved to Arizona and transitioned into the position of site director. He then transitioned to vice president of content. In 2018, after Liftable Media folded all its brands into The Western Journal, he was named executive editor. His mission is to advance conservative principles and be a positive and truthful voice in the media.

He is married and has four children. He resides in Phoenix, Arizona.
Birthplace
South Carolina
Education
Homeschooled (and proud of it); B.A. Mississippi College; J.D. University Of Memphis
Location
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Culture, Faith, Politics




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