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Facebook Let 3rd-party Vendors Listen to Your Messenger Chats

A Google spokesperson said it has paused "language reviews" while Apple has said it would issue a software update in future that will let Siri users choose whether they participate in the grading process or not

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

After Google, Apple and Amazon, Facebook has become the latest tech giant who was paying third-party contractors to transcribe and listen to your conversations on its Messenger app.

“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNET late Tuesday.

Earlier, Bloomberg reported on the existence of such Facebook programme. The contractors had no knowledge of where the audio was being recorded or how it was obtained.

Since 2015, Facebook Messenger has offered a feature to transcribe voice clips to text, although it is turned off by default.

“Facebook reportedly said affected users had selected the option to have their voice chats transcribed in their Messenger settings, and added that the data associated with the recordings was anonymized before being listened to by contractors,” said the report.

Apple, Google and Amazon recently suspended human review of user audio recordings after reports said the companies used third-party contractors to listen users” voice recordings.

After facing flak, Google and Apple both stopped snooping on users” conversations.

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FILE – The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., Oct. 10, 2018. VOA

While Apple suspended the programme that let its virtual assistant Siri listen to users” recordings for “quality control”, Google stopped listening and transcribing Google Assistant recordings in Europe.

Belgian broadcaster VRT NWS reported last month that users” conversations with Google Home speakers were being recorded and audio clips were being sent to sub-contractors who then “transcribed the audio files for subsequent use in improving Google”s speech recognition technology”, thus, raising serious privacy concerns.

The iPhone-maker was reportedly paying contractors to listen to recorded conversations of Siri.

A report that surfaced last week raised concerns as a former contractor at the iPhone-maker claimed that Siri interactions are sent to workers who listen to the recordings and are asked to grade it for a variety of factors.

Also Read: Apple iPhone XR Reaches to Top Spot in Indian Premium Segment

A Google spokesperson said it has paused “language reviews” while Apple has said it would issue a software update in future that will let Siri users choose whether they participate in the grading process or not.

“Amazon saw the initial round of flak for allowing contractors to manually review Alexa recordings without express user permission, forcing the company to add an opt-out to its Echo devices,” reports TechCrunch. (IANS)

Next Story

US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Also Read: I Fall in Love with India Every Time I Return Here: Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)