They wrote it down! FB Messenger transcriptions raise even more privacy concerns

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Facebook messenger

New reports on Facebook messenger analysis go a little bit further than some earlier news from platforms like Siri and Google Assistant in spreading privacy concerns among the consumer base.

CNET reports today that Facebook recently halted a program where third-party contractors listened to various Facebook messenger voice chat audio clips, and actually transcribed them, ostensibly in order to help with natural language processing algorithm development.



In addition, Corrine Reichert reports Facebook’s assertions that the content was anonymized and only done according to people who had checked the right privacy box.

However, as experts have been pointing out users do not always fully understand the use of privacy settings in an interface.

The bigger question, to some who are concerned about uberveillance, is whether the company actually used the data to market or distribute to third parties.

Mark Zuckerberg fiercely denies any such use, but increasingly, U.S. regulators and legislators are suggesting that you can’t take these assertions at face value – that any actual collection of data needs to be looked into to make sure that companies are following the rules.

One reason this breaking news is so important is the use of transcription.

Those who were tuning in over the last few weeks heard about Google Assistant collecting the audio data, and how that impacted its brand, but it’s different when contractors are actually transcribing and writing down the voice data content. That’s a permanent record that can be used in all sorts of nefarious ways. It doesn’t give you a good happy fuzzy feeling about data collection – and it has some ramifications for GDPR, too.

Stay tuned and we’ll continue to keep an eye on what regulators and others are saying about the corralling of personal data through voice, a channe;l that is supposed to be rather opaque according to traditional privacy practices.

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