Facebook collected and transcribed voice chats from some users

Third-party contractors have come forward claiming they were paid to collect and transcribe audio from Facebook users’ voice chats.

First reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday, Facebook says it has halted operations on the collection and transcription of Messenger voice audio. The social media giant tells the outlet that the only users who are affected are those who chose the option to have their audio chats transcribed.

Speaking to CNET the company also confirmed putting the practices to a halt writing in a statement, “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago.”

However, the outlet reports that the company does not disclose audio collection from users or sending the collected audio for other people to transcribe in its data-use policies.

The purpose of the audio collection and transcription is reportedly to check the accuracy of Facebook’s automatic speech-recognition features. The company says it “paused” the process recently. Some contractors who came forward told Bloomberg they felt transcribing the collected data was unethical as Facebook failed to inform users about the practice.

The social media giant’s privacy terms have been under fire recently. In July, Facebook paid USD5 billion in fines to settle an investigation under the US Federal Trade Commission to find out if the company violated previous terms of users’ data handling.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg previously told the United States Senate that the social media platform does not “listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads … we don’t do that.”

Christian Woods
Christian Woods
Christian is a morning reporter and technology columnist for Best in Australia. Christian has worked in the media since 2000, in a range of locations. He joined Best in Australia in 2018, and began working in Melbourne in 2019.
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