And you thought Facebook wasn’t doing it?
All the members of the BigTech Elite Club have now admitted to the wrongdoing
So much for trusting the tech companies with your personal information. To tell you the truth, I would have been surprised if Facebook wasn’t doing this. I mean after all the social media giant has the worst track record among the Big techs when it comes to securing users privacy. Amazon, Microsoft, Apple & Google and now Facebook have all gone behind our backs to listen to our personal conversations via third party contractors.
With the fifth big tech company admitting to the practice this year it completes the “FAAMG’s circle of mistrust.” For those you who don’t know, FAAMG is an acronym coined by Goldman Sachs of the five top-performing tech companies —Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft & Google. According to a recent report by Bloomberg, FB paid hundreds of contractual workers to listen to your voice recordings from its Messenger App.
The contractors were apparently not told about how whose recordings were these or how they were obtained. The manual transcription was introduced to check the accuracy of the Artifical intelligence software interpreting these same messages, which were not traceable back to the users as claimed by Facebook.
FB also said that only users affected were the ones which chose an option in the Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. This service was launched back in 2015, but like other tech companies before Facebook, human involvement was not revealed to the users. As of now, FB has suspended the program following the lead of Apple who has done so globally & Google which suspended it in EU.
Amazon which was the first one to come under fire for human review of Alexa recordings has also announced that it would allow users to opt-out of the process. The new option would be offered in the settings menu of the Alexa smartphone app. Microsoft has so far not given any clarification on contractors listening to Skype calls.
Would you blame the regulatory authorities in different jurisdictions probing these big techs for malpractices? Apart from the sweeping antitrust review of the Big techs by the Department of Justice (DoJ) in the U.S, regulators in Luxembourg, Ireland & Germany are in talks with Amazon, Facebook & Google respectively as per the GDPR regulations to gauge if they overstepped the data privacy laws.
While lawmakers in the EU have been much more forthcoming with protecting the data privacy of the consumer, the lax approach in the US has let these tech giants get too big who yield undue influence on business competition, politics & social issues. More importantly, these recent actions have completely watered down the trust that the consumers had built in these tech companies over the years. Maybe the idea of breaking up of these major technology platforms by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of the U.S is not so outrageous after all.