Facebook Paid Hundreds Of Contractors To Transcribe Users’ Audio

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Facebook audio

Facebook collected audio data and recordings from its users and handed them over to a third party.

The tech giant has been paying hundreds of outside third-party contractors to transcribe clips of audio from its users, but the tech giant said it has stopped doing that.

The company confirmed it has been transcribing audio from users who chose the option in Facebook Messenger to have voice chats transcribed, Bloomberg reported. Facebook says, “We paused human review of audio more than a week ago.”

The contract workers were not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained — only to transcribe it, sources told Bloomberg on condition of anonymity. “They’re hearing Facebook users’ conversations, sometimes with vulgar content, but do not know why Facebook needs them transcribed, the people said.”

Contractors felt their work was “unethical” because Facebook “hasn’t disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio,” Techcrunch reported.

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Facebook hasn’t had a chief security officer since Alex Stamos left more than a year ago.

It’s the latest tech company to face questions about its use of third-party contractors and staff to review user audio. The news follows earlier reports that Amazon, Apple and Google had human reviews of voice clips, with the goal of improving the software, Seeking Alpha reported.

Facebook has insisted that its “not listening” to its users through their cell phones.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to make major changes to secure its users data. He told the public during a meeting with Congress: “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.”

Facebook recently lost a federal appeal in a lawsuit over facial-recognition data that could result in billions of dollars of fines over its privacy practices.