Hacking News Facebook employees are listening to your sexual conversations

Published on August 15th, 2019 📆 | 5956 Views ⚑

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Facebook employees are listening to your sexual conversations

Facebook has recently committed multiple violations against user privacy and data protection rules, and it seems this kind of news will not stop appearing. Experts in system audits have reported that the company has been working with hundreds of third-party companies to transcribe audio samples from users of Facebook Messenger and other services.

According to anonymous sources working in some
of these companies, employees do not receive any information about the audio
samples or the way they were collected, as companies simply ask them to
transcribe as much as they can; “We really have no idea of Facebook’s
purpose in collecting this information,” anonymous employees say.

In this regard, the Data Protection Commission
of Ireland reported that the news is being investigated to determine whether
the social network has incurred a further violation of the European community
data protection legislation, known as GDPR. In recent times, the Northern
Ireland government has become an important counterweight to Facebook’s mass
information gathering activities. As soon as this was heard, the company’s
shares on the New York stock exchange fell 1.5%.

Hours later, Facebook’s official pronouncement
was finally learned, through a statement that mentions: “It is true that
we have been transcribing some audio samples from users, this practice has been
interrupted for a week”. According to system audits experts, with this
practice Facebook seeks to verify that its artificial intelligence algorithm
correctly interprets the audio messages sent by users.

Recently, multiple reviews have accumulated for
the most relevant technology companies, such as Apple or Amazon, due to similar
practices. In addition, in the case of Amazon, it has been reported that the
company had thousands of employees around the world listening to requests that
users make to voice assistant Alexa to improve their response to users. The
same method has been used for Apple and Alphabet Inc. assistants. After these
reports, both companies claimed that this practice was paused or discontinued.

It’s only been a few weeks since Facebook
received a $5bn USD fine from the U.S. Federal
Trade Commission
(FTC) for its poor privacy practices. At his hearing
before the U.S. Senate, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “We don’t
activate the user’s microphone without authorization and we don’t use audio
samples for advertising purposes, it’s a conspiracy theory.”

During this hearing, Zuckerberg acknowledged
that the company accesses users’ microphone data only if they are granted
permission in the app, although Facebook does not clearly explain what happens
to these audio samples after they pass through their servers, system audits
experts report.

Although the full list of third-party companies
working for Facebook in the analysis of audio samples is still unknown, one of
these has been confirmed to be the outsourcing firm based at California TaskUs
Inc. Although the social network is the main client of this company, its
employees are prohibited from mentioning the relationship between the two
companies, referring internally to Facebook with the codename
“Prisma”.

In addition to audio sample transcripts, system
audits experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) say
TaskUs also performs content analysis to look for possible policy violations; in
addition, a TaskUs team works on the selection of advertisements and political
propaganda for certain Facebook users.

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