Facebook Listened to Conversations, Used Outside Workers to Transcribe

On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that Facebook had been using outside contractors to transcribe bits of audio conversations between users. The company confirmed that it had done so, but said that the affected users had chosen to have their messages transcribed.

However, it’s unlikely that the users knew that pieces of their conversations would be heard by outside contractors and then transcribed for company purposes, instead of a simple voice-to-text application.

Facebook said the contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, and that it had recently stopped the process.

A company spokesman said:

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

The company didn’t address the fact that it was using outside labor to listen to private information between users.  Even if the audio files were anonymized, it still appears to be a red flag in the world of privacy concerns.

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