Facebook has been paying outside contractors to transcribe audio clips from users of its services, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The company confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it was no longer doing so, Bloomberg reported.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Bloomberg, citing the company, reported that the users who were affected chose the option in the Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed.
The contractors were checking whether Facebook’s artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages.
Shares of Facebook pared gains after the report and were up 1.66% at $188.44.
The social media company has been facing broad criticism from lawmakers and regulators over its privacy practices.
Last week, a federal appeals court rejected Facebook’s effort to undo a class action lawsuit claiming that it illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of users without their consent.
The company also agreed to pay a record $5 billion fine last month to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe.
The report comes amid increasing scrutiny over the listening practices of top tech companies.
Apple, Microsoft, and Google have all come under fire in recent weeks for how they collect audio from their voice-activated smart assistants.
Earlier this month, Apple and Google globally suspended reviewing recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants, as concerns over data privacy mount.
Even big names in the industry have warned about the potential privacy abuses associated with technology.
TMZ ran into Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. at the beginning of July and asked him if we should be worried that our devices are listening to us.
And according to Wozniak, the answer is yes.
‘I’m worried about everything,’ Wozniak said. ‘I don’t think you can stop it, though.
‘Who knows if my cell phone is listening right now? Alexa has already been in the news a lot.’
The prevalence of connected devices today means your conversations might not be as private as you think they are, Wozniak said.
‘There’s almost no way to stop it,’ he added. ‘People think they have a level of privacy that they don’t.