Facebook has been secretly transcribing your conversations

Posted on Tuesday, 13th August 2019 @ 09:23 PM by Text Size A | A | A

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Listening In

Facebook has been clandestinely accumulating written transcriptions of its users’ conversations, which the social media giant recorded through their phone microphones.

That’s according to third-party contractors who spoke to Bloomberg about the practice. The contractors said that they were paid to listen in on countless, occasional vulgar conversations among Facebook Messenger users, though the company never explained to them why it needed the transcriptions. Facebook later told Bloomberg that the human transcriptions were being used to test the performance of its speech-recognizing artificial intelligence — a troubling admission that the company regularly violates people’s privacy.

Secret Research

Facebook told Bloomberg that it stopped the secretive project last week. But in numerous hearings in front of Congress, CEO Mark Zuckerberg insisted that Facebook only accessed people’s microphones when explicitly given permission to do so for features like voice messaging. Zuckerberg never disclosed that Facebook was sending recordings to third party contractors.

 

It’s that difference between Facebook’s disclosures — Bloomberg reports that Facebook doesn’t mention audio recordings in its data-use policy — and the tasks they were asked to do that spurred the contractors to come forward over concerns that their work was unethical.

READ MORE: Facebook Paid Hundreds of Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio [Bloomberg]

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A federal appeals court on Thursday rejected Facebook Inc’s (FB.O) effort to undo a class action lawsuit claiming that it illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent. The 3-0 decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco over Facebook’s facial recognition technology exposes the company to billions of dollars in potential damages to the Illinois users who brought the case.

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden wants to fight back against corporate surveillance by Instagram and its parent company Facebook, as well as YouTube, which is owned by Google. In a tweet rant posted on Twitter, Snowden expressed that both social media giants owned by Mark Zuckerberg were involved in spying on their users, as well as YouTube. Snowden also announced that he has created new accounts on the platforms and that he will explain how the sites spy on users. He added, that he would “explain methods to limit how much they know about you,” if you choose to use them.

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