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[dupe] Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats (yahoo.com)
36 points by Vaslo 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments

Once your content leaves your device (and in some cases once it enters your device, or even once your device is on) there is no guarantee of any privacy. Someone somewhere may eventually see your content, even accidental pictures that would be inappropriate for anybody to see, that you'd delete after, but oh whoops it's already backed up to the cloud. Sad how many wont even realize the implications of any of these services.

> Facebook first started allowing Messenger users to have their audio transcribed in 2015. “We’re always working on ways to make Messenger more useful,” David Marcus, the executive in charge of the service at the time, said in a Facebook post.

Wait, they "allowed" users to have their audio transcribed? Was this as a service, or is it just the b.s. corporate speak that FB always uses to hide what they're actually doing?

it's opt-in with informed consent.

I'm no fan of Facebook's privacy track record, but this seems like a pretty alarmist story. Accurate transcription is hard. You need hundreds or thousands of hours of training data to get to WERs that consumers will accept on a single accent in a single language. Then you need to do the same for major accent variations (Irish & Indian english, for example). Then you need to do the same again for other languages. You also need to account for big variations in microphone hardware, perhaps bandwidth (which might affect bitrate of the captured audio), and so on and so forth.

Facebook could theoretically have paid voice actors to produce the training data up front to eliminate concerns, and then never tweaked their models based on user data, but the results certainly wouldn't have been as good.

That all said, if they buried the opt-in, they deserve flak.

>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

This sort of accusation could be overblown or underblown. Do we actually know the source of these recordings? Whose audio was recorded, under what conditions?

And again, it was clearly pointed out, that users opted into this with clear consent. There is no real story here, as this is exactly what was agreed to by both parties.

Opting into transcription is not the same thing as Facebook recording your conversation and storing it for later training data, human verification of the transcription, etc. Nor does it give Facebook the right to record audio when people are in two-party consent states without permission from all parties.

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