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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)

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Social Media Giant Facebook Requires ‘Significant Work’ to Stop Political Bias

“We don’t allow content that might encourage offline harm or is intended to intimidate, exclude or silence people,” he added

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FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

Facebook has released results of an independent internal audit conducted by a former Republican senator that found the social networking giant has been biased against conservatives and needs to do “significant work” to stop this.

Former Senator Jon Kyl, a respected Republican and his team at the law firm Covington and Burling met with more than 130 leading conservative politicians and organizations and produced the report.

Facebook has long been accused of bias against conservative viewpoints to appear on its platform

“Although these concerns appear across the political and ideological spectrum, members of the conservative community in particular are concerned that the Silicon Valley-based company’s admittedly liberal culture negatively influences the reach of conservative ideas and news.”

“Political conservatives, religious traditionalists, and others are increasingly feeling marginalised by cultural ‘gatekeepers’ such as social media, entertainment media, and academia,” the report said.

According to Nick Clegg, Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications at Facebook, the report also highlights the changes Facebook has made to address some of those concerns.

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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

“These include making our decisions more transparent by providing more information on why people are seeing specific posts on News Feed; ensuring Page managers can see when enforcement action takes place; launching an appeals process; and creating a new Oversight Board for content,” Clegg said in a statement late Tuesday.

This is the first stage of an ongoing process and Senator Kyl and his team will report again in a few months’ time.

“Facebook’s policies and their application have the potential to restrict free expression. Given the platform’s popularity and ubiquity, this is a danger that must be taken very seriously. Facebook insists that it is committed to safety, equal treatment and building community,” read the report.

Also Read: Apple Card Now Available to all U.S. Customers

“Facebook has recognized the importance of our assessment and has taken some steps to address the concerns we uncovered. But there is still significant work to be done to satisfy the concerns we heard from conservatives,” it added.

Clegg said that “while we err on the side of free speech, there are critical exceptions”.

“We don’t allow content that might encourage offline harm or is intended to intimidate, exclude or silence people,” he added. (IANS)