What’s Going on: Facebook Inc. has paid hundreds of third parties contractors to break down and transcribe clips of audio from their users. According to a Bloomberg report, the contract employees were not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained, but only to reproduce what was said. Facebook stated, “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the company said Tuesday.
Why are they listening? The third party contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages, which were anonymized. Huge corporations like Google, Amazon, and now Facebook have come under criticism for collecting audio snippets meant to enhance or enrich their consumers experience with Alexa, Siri, or Google’s assistant and subjecting them to review by human third parties.
Reason for Concern: All of this has now just been revealed a week after Facebook completed a $5 billion settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission after a probe of its privacy practices, or lack thereof. Facebook has vehemently denied that the purpose of collecting audio snippets is to inform ads and control what is shown on users’ news feeds, but they also don’t mention audio in their new revised data policy. In no place of their new data policy do they let the users know that their audio and content may be screened by another human being.
What to Do: Everyone deserves to know what information Facebook has already collected and stored on them. Conveniently, they’ve now offered this to all users. By simply clicking here, https://www.facebook.com/settings?tab=your_facebook_information, you can see everything Facebook knows about you. Every message, picture, audio clip you’ve sent that they’ve stored you can now download and look at.