Facebook has been transcribing your voice messages

Facebook has been paying external service providers to allow employees to type voice messages sent by users. After this was discovered, Facebook reacted very quickly.

Facebook has paid hundreds of employees from external service providers to transcribe the voice messages of users of the social network, reports Bloomberg, citing employees who did the job. According to reports, the employees did not know where the recordings came from, where they were taken or why Facebook needed the transcripts.

Affected are audio messages in Facebook Messenger / © ANDROIDPIT

The employees heard the conversations of the users, some of which were vulgar, according to Bloomberg. Facebook has confirmed the practice but said it will not continue to do it. “Just like Apple and Google, we stopped people from analyzing audio more than a week ago,”  Facebook said. This was confirmed to Bloomberg by companies commissioned to do so.

According to Facebook, affected Messenger users had selected the 2015 voice message transcription feature. The service providers then checked whether the anonymous chats were correctly interpreted.

In recent months, more and more reports have emerged that several technology companies have audio recordings evaluated by people. This concerns both Amazon’s Alexa and recordings of Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Both Apple and Google have stopped this practice according to their own statements, Amazon wants to let users decide for themselves.

Facebook denies listening to users

Facebook is always the focus when it comes to data scandals. Just recently, the US Federal Trade Commission imposed a $5 billion fine on the social network. Facebook has denied several times in the past eavesdropping on users and personalizing advertising accordingly. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg had described this as a conspiracy theory in the hearing before Congress. He said Facebook only uses the microphone on devices if users give the app permission to do so, and that the microphone is necessary for certain functions.

The privacy policy of Facebook, revised last year, points out that the social network automatically analyzes conversations as well as using external service providers. However, it does not say that audio recordings are evaluated.

What do you think about Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google listening to you? Do you still use the functions? Let us know in the comments.

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