(Breitbart) – Despite claims that Facebook was listening in on its users previously being dismissed as “conspiracy theories,” Mark Zuckerberg’s company recently admitted that it has been doing exactly that — listening to audio recordings of its users, using the excuse that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft do the same thing.
VICE News reports that despite previously denying claims that Facebook has been spying on users conversations as a “conspiracy theory,” it has been revealed that Facebook has been hiring outside contractors to do exactly that. The revelation comes shortly after an investigation by Bloomberg, with Facebook now admitting that third-party contractors were employed to transcribe the audio messages sent between users on Facebook’s Messenger app.
Facebook stated that the messages used were “totally de-identified audio snippets used to improve AI transcription of messages from people who had opted into transcription on Messenger.” The social media Masters of the Universe claimed that this was common practice and said in a statement: “Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago.” When questioned on whether the practice would be restarted at some point, the tech giant did not answer.
A Facebook spokesperson told VICE News that the practice of analyzing users’ audio recording was “very common in tech” up until about a week ago when reports revealed that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft were all listening in on users devices. All of the tech firms claimed that the data was stripped of any information that could identify the users and was only used to improve their products and help tailor ads to users.
Facebook stated that it followed the lead of other firms to “limit human review of non-public audio.” The company refused to comment on whether it captured audio from its Portal home video calling devices. When asked directly by Congress last year if Facebook listened to people’s conversations without permission, CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated: “You’re talking about this conspiracy theory that gets passed around that we listen to what’s going on on your microphone and use that for ads. We don’t do that.”
Flashback: Facebook Embeds Tracking Codes In Photos To Collect More Of Your Data
An Australian cyber researcher alleges that social media giant Facebook embeds tracking codes in monitor who sees and shares your photos.
Forbes reports that Australian cyber researcher Edin Jusupovic recently claimed on Twitter that Facebook is embedding “hidden codes” in photos that users upload to the site to track how many people see and share the photos.
“Facebook is embedding tracking data inside photos you download,” Jusupovic stated on Twitter adding that he had “noticed a structural abnormality when looking at a hex dump of an image file from an unknown origin only to discover it contained what I now understand is an IPTC special instruction.”
#facebook is embedding tracking data inside photos you download.
I noticed a structural abnormality when looking at a hex dump of an image file from an unknown origin only to discover it contained what I now understand is an IPTC special instruction. Shocking level of tracking.. pic.twitter.com/WC1u7Zh5gN
— Edin Jusupovic (@oasace) July 11, 2019
Jusupovic stated that this was a “shocking level of tracking,” adding that “the take from this is that they can potentially track photos outside of their own platform with a disturbing level of precision about who originally uploaded the photo (and much more).”
The “IPTC special instructions” that Jusupovic describes are essentially digital watermarks embedded in image metadata by Facebook, which the company can then access again at a later date. These methods have been used for some time and have many applications such as tracking the ownership of images, resolving copyright infringements, enhancing user services, and improving targeted advertising.
One analyst noted that these tags have been added to images since 2016 and “contains an IPTC block with an ‘Original Transmission Reference’ field that contains some kind of text-encoded sequence. This coding method lets Facebook ‘know it has seen the image before when it gets uploaded again.’” One user on Reddit explained it simply stating: “It is yet another way to learn associations between people. Person 1 uploaded a bunch of the same photos Person 2 uploaded, let’s show them both all the same advertisements!”
Members of Congress have been focusing more closely on the actions of social media sites for some time now, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) wrote to the FTC in May urging the commission to probe Facebook “to compel sweeping changes to end the Facebook’s pattern of misuse and abuse of personal data.”