Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users' audio clips

Associated Press

NEW YORK (August 14, 2019) — Facebook has paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its Messenger service, raising privacy concerns for a company with a history of privacy lapses.

The practice was, until recently, common in the tech industry. Companies say the practice helps improve their services. But users aren't typically aware that humans and not just computers are reviewing audio.

Transcriptions done by humans raise bigger concerns because of the potential of rogue employees or contractors leaking details. The practice at Google emerged after some of its Dutch language audio snippets were leaked. More than 1,000 recordings were obtained by Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS, which noted that some contained sensitive personal conversations — as well as information that identified the person speaking.

Facebook said audio snippets reviewed by contractors were masked so as not to reveal anyone's identity. It said it stopped the practice a week ago. The development was reported earlier by Bloomberg.

Google said it suspended doing this worldwide while it investigates the leaks. Amazon said it still uses humans, but users can decline, or opt out, of the human transcriptions. Published reports say Apple also has used humans, but has stopped.

Irish data-protection regulators say they're seeking more details from Facebook to assess compliance with European data regulations.

Facebook is already under scrutiny for a variety of other ways it has misused user data. It agreed to a $5 billion fine to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission probe of its privacy practices.

Comments

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

What do you believe will have the greatest influence with Jewish voters in November 2020?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

Iranian oil tanker pursued by US says it is going to Turkey
75 years later, US World War II veterans say: Never forget
Supreme Court: Ginsburg treated for tumor on pancreas
Trump raises tariffs on Chinese goods as trade war escalates
'Our bigger enemy': Trump escalates attack on Fed chief
US stocks tumble as US-China trade war rattles investors
Christian printer argues right to reject homosexual business

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Christian deputy’s request to follow ‘Billy Graham Rule’ got him fired, he claims in lawsuit
Florida gun owner who claimed self-defense convicted in 'Stand Your Ground' case
Texas man licks ice cream, puts it back on grocery shelf — and really regrets the consequences
Jeffrey Epstein taken off suicide watch after examination by 'doctoral-level psychologist,' DOJ says
NYPD says attack against 58-year-old might be an anti-white hate crime

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day
NEXT STORY
Iranian oil tanker pursued by US says it is going to Turkey

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (August 24, 2019) — An Iranian-flagged oil tanker pursued by the U.S. amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington changed its listed destination to a port in Turkey early Saturday after Greece said it wouldn’t risk its relations with America by aiding it.