If you are planning to delete your Messenger account, or at least delete your message history, you are not the only one. Concerns about privacy have always been present around technology, and so far large companies have managed to mitigate most consumer fears about the possibility that their private lives could be exposed. However, that is changing thanks to revelations linked to Amazon, Google, Apple and Microsoft. Now, Facebook joins the trend.
According to Bloomberg, Facebook hired independent employees to systematically listen and analyze the audio files of Messenger chats, with the aim of transcribing them. Messenger, the messenger application of the social network, reports 1.3 billion users (1.3 billion) globally.
After the revelations, Facebook confirmed the information but said they are no longer transcribing the audio. "Like Apple and Google, we stopped the human review of the audio more than a week ago," Facebook told Bloomberg.
The social media giant said users will be able to choose the option to transcribe their voice chats in the Facebook Messenger application. Contractors were testing artificial intelligence technology to make sure messages were correctly transcribed from voice to text.
How much privacy can you really expect from Messenger?
This news should not miss us. Facebook and I had previously confirmed that I had access to the messages in your Messenger application. Last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that while conversations in the Messenger application are considered private, Facebook "scans them and uses the same tools to prevent abuse in the social network in general."
In other words, if you thought that the messages and images you send through Facebook Messenger are private, you are wrong. Because of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which has shaken the public's trust on Facebook, the company's founder and CEO was forced to reveal even more information about the way in which the social media giant interacts with data from its users
In an interview with Vox last year, Zuckerberg said that the Facebook system is able to "detect what is happening" in the Messenger application. He added that when “sensational messages are found, they are stopped so that they are not published or reach their recipient.
Of course, this raises significant questions about the extent to which Facebook can monitor the content of your chat application. Later, the company told Bloomberg that, although Messenger conversations are considered private, "Facebook scans them and uses the same tools to prevent abuse there, the way it does on the social network in general."
The company stated that all content on the site must conform to identical “community standards”. Users can report messages that appear to be against these standards, in which case the company's "community operations" team conducts a review. Sometimes, automated tools are also responsible for checking them.
“In Messenger, when a photo is sent, our automated systems scan it using the technology of photo matching, to detect, for example, images of child exploitation. Or when a link is sent, we scan it for malware or viruses, ”a Facebook Messenger spokeswoman said in a statement. "Facebook designed these automated tools so we can quickly stop abusive behavior on our platform."
Facebook also noted that the methods with which Messenger analyzes user messages are, in fact, "very similar to those used by other Internet companies today."
But at the other end of the spectrum, another main chat application, which is also owned by Facebook, is proud to not be able to read the content sent through its platform. WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, has end-to-end encryption, which means it cannot read messages at all. While Messenger has an encrypted option, users must opt for it and configure it.
Facebook updated its data policy and established new terms of service to clarify the rules about its services, especially Messenger and Instagram. In a blog post, the network wrote: "It is better that we explain how we combat abuse and investigate suspicious activities, including through the analysis of content shared by people."