At this point it’s probably fairly safe to say that nothing you’ve given Facebook hasn’t been poked, parcelled up, and sold to the highest bidder. You know it, I know it, everyone knows but. But anyway, here’s another thing for us all to go huh about: Facebook has admitted it employed third-party contractors to listen to audio in your messages and transcribe them into text.
The report initially came from Bloomberg, who cited a number of employees who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal they had been listening to anonymised audio from Messenger, and that they were “uneasy” about where it had been obtained. Some of these clips reportedly contained “vulgar” content, which really raises questions about what you freaks are doing with Facebook audio messages. Not my business!
They’re not the only company who has been doing it, too. Over the past couple of weeks, similar stories have popped up about Amazon, Google and Apple, with the tech companies reportedly using human contractors and employees as a way of verifying whether their audio recognition systems are up to scratch.
After Bloomberg reached out, Facebook confirmed that it isn’t doing it anymore, referencing the coverage of the other companies. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said.
Obviously, there’s a lot of unease out there about what social media companies can and cannot do with your audio – with Facebook being the centre of speculation that it listens to our conversations to target ads. CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied that allegation while speaking to US Congress in 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. We don’t do that.
Well! Just another fun social media story for us all to enjoy.