Facebook admits to having listened to certain user conversations

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After long denying it, the social network has acknowledged having transcribed sound conversations, with the authorization of Messenger users, to test, according to him, the artificial intelligence of his system.

The World with AFP Posted today at 01:28, updated at 01:45

Time to Reading 3 min.

Facebook claims to have ended very recently the transcription of conversations of its users.
Facebook claims to have ended very recently the transcription of conversations of its users. Thibault Camus / AP

In a statement sent to Bloomberg, Facebook acknowledges having transcribed recordings of conversations of some users, revealed Tuesday, August 13 the financial agency.

The first social network in the world explains having been authorized to transcribe their conversation by users of its Messenger application. Subcontractors checked whether the artificial intelligence of the network was correctly interpreting messages that had been made anonymous.

Facebook claims to have ended this practice very recently. "Just like Apple or Google, we froze the practice of making humans listen to sound recordings last week."explains the social network.

According to Bloomberg, employees who are in charge of transcription worry about the ethical implications of their work, being unaware of the origin of the recordings of the conversations, or the use made by the company founded by Mark. Zuckerberg.

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Amazon, Apple and Google, all selling voice assistants, had already acknowledged doing the same to improve the answers of their applications. Apple and Google have said they have dropped the practice in recent weeks. Amazon gives users the choice to block the use of their exchanges with Alexa, the artificial intelligence that drives their Echo voice assistants.

Facebook, which has just paid a record $ 5 billion fine to the US federal authorities for misusing the private data of its users, has long denied using audio recordings to better target its ads or make its pages more attractive .

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The founder and CEO of the social networking giant rejected the idea even at a congressional hearing in April 2018. "You're talking about a circulating conspiracy theory that says we're listening to what's going on in your microphone and we're using it for commercials"said the young billionaire to a question from Senator Gary Peters. "We do not do that" he had replied firmly.

Later, Facebook had specified that it accesses the microphone of a user only if the latter had given permission to the application. According to Bloomberg, the company did not specify what it was doing afterwards.

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