Facebook has been listening to users' voice messages without their knowledge

Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users' audio Bloomberg

Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users' audio Bloomberg

The work has rattled the contract employees, who are not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained - only to transcribe it, said the people, who requested anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

While this is bad enough on its own and considering the other multiple privacy concerns Facebook has been regularly facing, it's even more damning when you take into account CEO Mark Zuckerberg's comments from his Congressional testimony that took place back in April 2018. Facebook confirmed to CNET it has now stopped the practice, which the social network was using to check the accuracy of its artificial intelligence system in transcribing Facebook Messenger voice chats, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

To its credit, Facebook was transcribing the audio to improve its AI's ability to interpret messages and not necessarily push ads.

Shares of Facebook pared gains following the report. Meanwhile, Facebook never disclosed to users that their audio recordings would be reviewed by humans, though they did have to give Facebook permission to access their microphone to make the recordings. That's led some contractors to feel their work is unethical, according to the people with knowledge of the matter. Santa Monica, California-based TaskUs instead refers to one of its largest and most important clients only by the code-name "Prism" - which is, ironically, also the name of the NSA initiative exposed by Edward Snowden that installed backdoors in popular online platforms like Google, Skype, Twitter, and... There are also TaskUs teams working on election preparation and screening political ads, though some of those employees were recently moved to the new transcription team.

Tehran says Britain might free Iran's oil tanker soon
The developments come against the background of tension in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's key maritime chokepoints. The British Foreign Office are yet to respond to Eslami's comments concerning a potential release of Iran's oil tanker.

Now playing: Watch this: Is Facebook spying on you?

The murkiness of what Facebook did with these recordings is creepy, to say the least. It includes no mention of other human beings screening the content. Machines are getting better at the task but sometimes still struggle with the unfamiliar. The recordings that Facebook's contractors were transcribing came from the voice-to-text feature in Messenger.

It is not clear whether Facebook contractors listened to audio sent by users in Britain or in the EU. But this Facebook news is somehow more foreboding than anything we've heard before.

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