Tech

Facebook Listened To Your Voice Messages Without Permission

Mark Zuckerberg-owned Facebook is the newest addition to the list of tech companies who try to invade our privacy and listen to the private conversations. The company hired external contractors to listen to our conversations.

Facebook Has Access to Voice Chats

According to a report by Bloomberg, Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users’ voice chats from its services, specifically Facebook Messenger. The voice chats included various conversations between users that were even ‘vulgar’ in nature, meaning a lot of sensitive content was accessed by the company.

People close to the matter have suggested that those who were listening to the audio clips weren’t allowed to know why they were doing so.

Among the various contractors hired to do the job, TaskUs Inc. is one; it has suggested that Facebook never told them the whereabouts of the voice clips, due to which TaskUs’s employees felt they were involved in something unethical.

Facebook Admits 

Facebook has admitted that it hired people to transcribe users’ voice chats to ensure that its AI can understand the messages. However, it stopped doing so a week back, after various other tech companies were found accessing users’ conversations.

Although Facebook has halted its practice of listening to users’ chats, it didn’t tell users that it would access their conversations (at least directly!). Facebook mentions in its data-use policy that it can collect user data, but doesn’t specifically mention voice clips.

A New Member

Facebook is obviously not the only tech company that got hold of user conversations for its own advantage. Quite recently, Apple’s Siri was found recording users’ conversations (even sex chats) to further train the virtual assistant; Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant are also part of the list.

Following the revelations, Apple and Google stopped the practice, while Amazon has provided users with the option to opt-out of the process.

My Take

While companies claim to access users’ private conversations just for the sake of analyzing and improving their services, it’s clearly a case of privacy invasion and it’s high time companies stop doing this in the name of enhancing its services for us.

Companies can follow other methods of doing so — maybe customized sample audio clips could work in this scenario instead of using actual conversations. I hope these companies take note and avoid trouble for themselves, especially Facebook, which just got fined by the FTC.

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