Return of ‘the man behind the curtain’
’Facebook Paid Contractors to Transcribe Users’ Audio Chats
’ is a headline designed to make you roll your eyes and think 'not another example of tech companies listening to us without permission!’ It summons images of Mark Zuckerberg hiring lackeys to listen in on private calls through Messenger and report back to him…
Except that’s not what happened here at all.
As Bloomberg’s story explains: “[Facebook] said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed”
In other words, these people opted in to having their conversations transcribed. This wasn’t totally unprompted snooping.
Now, Facebook should definitely have said 'a human may listen to your conversation to check our software is working properly,’ but I’m surprised anyone’s surprised that humans get involved, given the number of stories we’ve heard about just this.
In Facebook’s case, it says it stopped using humans to check its transcription software’s accuracy at the same time voice assistant makers did the same, a couple of weeks ago.
More 'A.I.’ than many people think is just Wizard of Oz-style 'man behind the curtain’ stuff. But to win users’ trust and keep the press at bay, tech companies need to be more open about that fact.