Facebook listened to users' conversations

Facebook paid people to transcribe Messenger voice chats

Facebook paid people to transcribe Messenger voice chats

Facebook has come under fire over the past year for breaking privacy rules and collecting user data without authorization.

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago", a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC.

Facebook has paid hundreds of contractors to listen to and transcribe snippets of users' conversations, US media reported on Tuesday, amid heightened scrutiny of the social network's data collection practices. The contractors had no knowledge of where the audio is being recorded and obtained, Bloomberg cited people who hold these contracting jobs as saying.

It is the latest major tech firm to be caught listening to users' messages without their explicit knowledge, following similar revelations about Amazon, Google and Apple. "We paused human review of audio more than a week ago", Facebook told Bloomberg.

The audio recordings were generated by Messenger's voice chat transcription option, which lets users send voice messages which are then transcribed by AI for the benefit of their recipient.

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In follow-up answers for Congress, the company said it "only accesses users' microphone if the user has given our app permission and if they are actively using a specific feature that requires audio (like voice messaging features.)" The Menlo Park, California-based company doesn't address what happens to the audio afterward.

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Facebook first started allowing Messenger users to have their audio transcribed in 2015.

Further adding to contractors' concerns about eavesdropping on users' private messages is the fact that Facebook forbids at least one outsourcing firm from referring to them by name.

TaskUs contractors also moderate content for policy violations, screen political ads, and work on "election preparation", an ominous term Bloomberg opts not to define but which has previously coincided with mass deplatforming of political accounts in the months preceding elections.

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