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Report: Facebook Paid Contractors To Transcribe User Audio On Messenger

(CBS Local) -- Facebook has been paying hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe select voice conversations from users of its services, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people with knowledge of the work.

The company confirmed that it had been transcribing users' audio, but said it will no longer do so following scrutiny into other companies.

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Earlier this month, Apple and Google suspended reviewing recordings from users interacting with their voice assistants.

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," a spokesperson told Bloomberg.

The company said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook's Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. The contractors were checking whether Facebook's artificial intelligence correctly interpreted the messages.

Facebook also described the audio snippets that it sent to contractors as masked and stripped of identity. But the company hadn't disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio and that led some contractors to feel their work is unethical, according to Bloomberg.

The report comes as Facebook faces broad criticism from lawmakers and regulators over its privacy policies.

The social media giant agreed last month to pay a record $5 billion fine to settle a U.S. Federal Trade Commission data privacy probe.

As part of the agency's settlement with Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg will have to personally certify his company's compliance with its privacy programs. The FTC said that false certifications could expose him to civil or criminal penalties.

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