• March 25, 2023

Facebook hired human contractors to listen to audio from its Messenger app

Facebook has been paying outside contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its services, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company claims it stopped using human workers to review audio clips more than a week ago, noting that contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages.

Messenger over the years has offered a feature to transcribe voice to text, although it is turned off by default.

Facebook claims the third-party contractors reviewed audio clips of only those who opted for that feature. However, according to its support page, if even one person in your chat has consented to Facebook transcribing the conversation, any audio in the thread would have been translated, regardless of who sent it.

The latest findings looks troubling considering the fact that Facebook’s terms of service does not indicate that humans would be reviewing the audio. “Voice to Text uses machine learning. The more you use this feature, the more Voice to Text can help you,” the support page reads.

Facebook also only identifies third-party vendors in its terms of service as providers who “support our business” by “analyzing how our products are used,” but it does not clearly spell out that this may include humans.

Earlier this month, Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google globally suspended reviewing recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants, as concerns over data privacy mount.

Amazon has since allowed users to opt out, while Google defends its practice, claiming the process helps Google Assistant operate in multiple languages.

Edward Kyei Frimpoong-Mybeeponline


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