Facebook cannot seem to respect the privacy of anything. Although a certain level of privacy is a basic human right, Facebook has been paying contractors to secretly transcribe all of your conversations.
That’s according to third-party contractors who spoke to Bloomberg about the practice. The conversations were those recorded through the social media messaging app’s microphone. 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.
According to a report by Futurism, Facebook stopped the practice only last week. “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday. However, 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 to be transcribed.
Facebook also said that the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. But still, Zuckerberg insisted this was just a conspiracy theory. “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,” Zuckerberg told U.S. Senator Gary Peters in April 2018. “We don’t do that.”
Regardless of the reasons the social media giant is spying on you, they are violating your fundamental human rights. 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.
The Facebook data-use policy, which was revised last year to make it more understandable for the public, includes no mention of audio or recorded voice messages sent in the Messanger app. It does, however, say Facebook will collect “content, communications and other information you provide” when users “message or communicate with others.”
That’s just vague speak for “we will spy and we don’t care.” The Orwellian future we were all warned about is here.