Facebook quizzed by watchdog for listening to users' chats

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The staff members were "rattled" by the work, according to Bloomberg, who reported that hundreds of external contractors were handed audio clips with no context and told to transcribe them.

Facebook, which has been facing broad criticism from lawmakers and regulators over its privacy practices, said in response to the Bloomberg story: "Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago".

Facebook says it paid contractors to transcribe audio clips from Messenger users, something many probably weren't aware of.

Facebook has admitted that it hired people to transcribe users' voice chats to ensure that its AI can understand the messages.

Facebook said the contractors were tasked with checking to see if the firm's artificial intelligence-based algorithms and systems were correctly interpreting audio content.

As far as Microsoft goes, Motherboard reported last week that it got its hands on documents, screenshots, and audio that it says show that humans listen to Skype calls made using the app's translation function.

Only Amazon continues listening to audio, although now the company lets users opt out of the service.

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A report indicates that Facebook was paying third parties to transcribe Messenger audio conversations.

The commission already has eight individual probes into the USA social media company, two into its WhatsApp subsidiary, and one into Facebook-owned Instagram. Even in a separate information page in the app dedicated to understanding Voice to Text, Facebook explains that users can turn it off for each chat, and prompts people to use it more. Google and Apple also came under fire for their home assistant devices listening to user audio; both companies have since stopped the practice.

There is no mention of human involvement.

Facebook said it ceased the service only recently.

After Bloomberg reached out, Facebook confirmed that it isn't doing it anymore, referencing the coverage of the other companies. The claims, in this instance, pertained to the allegations against political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which improperly obtained the data of up to 87 million Facebook users a year ago.

In brief: What do Amazon, Apple, Google, and now Facebook have in common?

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