Facebook Contractors Have Been Listening To ‘Hey Portal’, Not Just Messenger

Kevin Mwanza
Written by Kevin Mwanza
Democracy Facebook contractors
Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside third-party contractors to transcribe clips of audio from its users. Image by Autumn Keiko

Facebook contractors have been listening to user voice messages on both the Messenger app and Hey Portal voice assistant, according to a Bloomberg report.

Several other tech companies including Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon have come under scrutiny over allowing contractors to listen to users’ conversations without their permission.

Facebook said it plans to restart its human review of voice chats, which it had halted in August. That includes reviewing Portal device voice commands after quietly pausing them around the same time as Messenger reviews came to a halt.

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

“We paused human review of the ‘Hey Portal’ voice interactions last month while we worked on a plan that gave people more transparency and control, including a way to turn it off,” Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of hardware, said in a statement to Bloomberg.

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He added that the social media giant was bringing the practice back now that there was “more transparency and control”.

Contractors transcribing audio for Facebook

Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside third-party contractors to transcribe clips of audio from its users but said in August it had stopped doing that.