Messenger eavesdrop

Facebook hired hundreds of third-party contractors to transcribe recordings of the site’s users, according to Bloomberg

The social media giant hired the contractors to transcribe audio gleaned from its Messenger app in order to ensure the accuracy of its artificial intelligence-based voice recognition software. It has since discontinued the practice.

“[W]e paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” Facebook said in an announcement released Tuesday.

Some commentators noted that “paused” is not the same as “permanently ceased.” Facebook is the latest company to come under scrutiny for hiring outside contractors to listen in on recordings of users, following Apple, Amazon, and Google. While each of the companies maintain that the recordings were anonymized, several whistleblowers reported potentially egregious violations of user privacy. Apple and Google have since stopped the practice.

While Facebook’s privacy policy states that its systems “automatically process content and communications,” it failed to mention that the recordings were made available to employees and contractors of other companies.

Read the Bloomberg article here.