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Facebook contractors transcribed voice messages

Facebook has paid outside contractors to transcribe some users' voice messages, Bloomberg's Sarah Frier reported.

Why it matters: Earlier this month both Apple and Google suspended similar programs aimed at providing quality control for automated voice transcription services, and Facebook says it has done the same. But Facebook's long record of privacy problems, culminating in a recent $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, means that every misstep it makes in this area further frays public trust.

Details: The recordings were taken from Facebook Messenger users who had asked to save their voice chats in text form.

  • The contractors anonymously reviewed the messages so Facebook could monitor the performance of its AI-driven transcription service.

What they're saying: “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” a Facebook company spokesperson said.

  • The company also emphasized that it has never listened to people’s microphones on users' devices without their permission and explicit activation.