Facebook Admits It Has Been Secretly Transcribing Users' Voice Conversations

Cornelia Mascio
Agosto 14, 2019

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.

Facebook says it has since stopped this human review process. Some said the uncertainty and apparent duplicity - Facebook doesn't tell users third parties may review their audio - troubled them.

"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", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in US Senate testimony past year. But the company doesn't disclose in its data-use policies that it collects audio from users or that it sends such data to human transcribers, Bloomberg reported. The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook's Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed.

A spokesman said human review had been common practice in the industry until recently, and that the audio clips had been masked to avoid revealing anyone's identity. Santa Monica, California-based TaskUs instead refers to one of its largest and most important clients only by the code-name "Prism" - which is, ironically, also the name of the NSA initiative exposed by Edward Snowden that installed backdoors in popular online platforms like Google, Skype, Twitter, and...

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.

Facebook, which just settled a record $5 billion fine with the US Federal Trade Commission for misusing users' private data, has given differing responses to reports that it uses audio recordings to better target ads or make its pages more attractive. It includes no mention of other human beings screening the content. The recordings that Facebook's contractors were transcribing came from the voice-to-text feature in Messenger.

Facebook first started allowing Messenger users to have their audio transcribed in 2015. But this Facebook news is somehow more foreboding than anything we've heard before.

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