Despite claims that Facebook was listening in on its users previously being dismissed as “conspiracy theories,” Mark Zuckerberg’s company recently admitted that it has been doing exactly that — listening to audio recordings of its users, using the excuse that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft do the same thing.
VICE News reports that despite previously denying claims that Facebook has been spying on users conversations as a “conspiracy theory,” it has been revealed that Facebook has been hiring outside contractors to do exactly that. The revelation comes shortly after an investigation by Bloomberg, with Facebook now admitting that third-party contractors were employed to transcribe the audio messages sent between users on Facebook’s Messenger app.
Facebook stated that the messages used were “totally de-identified audio snippets used to improve AI transcription of messages from people who had opted into transcription on Messenger.” The social media Masters of the Universe claimed that this was common practice and said in a statement: “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago.” When questioned on whether the practice would be restarted at some point, the tech giant did not answer.
A Facebook spokesperson told VICE News that the practice of analyzing users’ audio recording was “very common in tech” up until about a week ago when reports revealed that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were all listening in on users devices. All of the tech firms claimed that the data was stripped of any information that could identify the users and was only used to improve their products and help tailor ads to users.
Facebook stated that it followed the lead of other firms to “limit human review of non-public audio.” The company refused to comment on whether it captured audio from its Portal home video calling devices. When asked directly by Congress last year if Facebook listened to people’s conversations without permission, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated: “You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads. We don’t do that.”