Facebook pays to transcribe voice chats

Facebook DislikeIf something is on the Internet, then it’s online forever. We are using many chat apps and intelligent assistants, like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Assistant. And while we do so, there is a question: what about our privacy? While Apple is using protection of users’ privacy in its marketing, what about social networks like Facebook and its Mesenger and WhatsApp? Personally, I don’t trust Facebook and I’m using no apps from Facebook, both mobile and desktop, including Messenger, which I replaced with Telegram.

Maybe you remember recent scandal with human transcribers. It affected Apple, Amazon and Google. Google and Apple have temporarily suspended their human audio review programs, while Amazon is letting Alexa users opt out. Apple also said, that in the future it will re-implement human transcribing, but with clear privacy policy and opt-out option.

Report from bloomberg.com says that Facebook paid hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe user audio clips from its Messenger app. Employees who worked on the transcription were not told why Facebook needs conversations to be transcribed, and also Facebook did not say how it obtained voice records or where were these records recorded.

Facebook said to Bloomberg that it canceled audio transcribing more then week ago.

Facebook is in partnership with firm TaskUs, which transcribes Messenger communication. It’s the same firm that reviews Facebook content for possible policy violations.

Facebook claims that users, who had its’ voice chat transcribed, have opted in. “Transcriptions were used to improve Facebook’s AI”, said company. Despite this, Facebook did not disclose to users that third parties may be reviewing audio. Facebook’s privacy policy says about collections of content, communications, and other information, but there is no specific mention of audio.

Facebook says its “systems automatically process content and communications you and others provide to analyze context and what’s in them.” It includes no mention of other human beings screening the content. In a list of “types of third parties we share information with” Facebook didn’t mention a transcription team, but vaguely refers to “vendors and service providers who support our business” by “analyzing how our products are used.”

There is also worth of mention what Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. Senator Gary Peters in April 2018:

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”, said Zuckerberg. “We don’t do that.”

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)”. But company did not say what happens to voice records afterward.

The Facebook data-use policy, revised last year to make it more understandable for the public, includes no mention of audio. It does, however, say Facebook will collect “content, communications and other information you provide” when users “message or communicate with others.”

Facebook first started allowing Messenger users to have their audio transcribed in 2015. And because many common users of mobile platforms just approve all system requirements, like microphone access, without detailed reviewing for what it should be used/abused for, and because almost everybody do not reads privacy policies, it makes a gold mine for Facebook.

Source: macrumors.com

Liked it? Take a second to support Lukáš Raynor Majer on Patreon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.