Facebook has now paused all human reviews of its AI transcription service

Facebook has admitted to paying hundreds of independent contractors to transcribe portions of its users’ conversations over its Facebook Messenger app. A number of contractors told reporters from Bloomberg that they had been employed by Facebook to transpose the calls which often contained "vulgar content".

A report in the Guardian suggested that the contractors were employed to manually transcribe portions of conversations that users had opted to have transcribed by an automated transcription service, as a check for accuracy.

Facebook said that it has now stopped the process of manually transcribing audio from users’ conversations. Facebook is not alone in attracting the attention of regulators over its use of human eavesdroppers to corroborate its AI software’s findings. Amazon, Google and Apple have all recently been accused of employing similar practices.  

“Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Last month, the US’ Federal Trade Commission announced plans to fine Facebook $5 billion, over the way it mishandled its customers data during the much-publicised Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018.

The FTC voted to approve the fine by a margin of 3-2, with Republicans backing the proposal and Democrats opposing it. Some US politicians have claimed that the record breaking fine does not go far enough in punishing the social media giant and that more should be done to enshrine data privacy in the US.

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