Facebook paid hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe clips of audio from users, report says

Facebook paid hundreds of outside contractors to transcribe its users' audio without their knowledge, according to a report on Tuesday. 

The contract employees told Bloomberg that they were not told where the audio was recorded or how it was obtained, but only told to transcribe it. They said they heard Facebook users’ conversations, but did not know why the company needed them transcribed.

Facebook confirmed that it had been transcribing users’ audio and said it will no longer continue the practice, according to Bloomberg. 

“We paused human review of audio more than a week ago,” the social media company said Tuesday.

The company also said the users who were affected chose the option in Facebook’s Messenger app to have their voice chats transcribed. 

But Facebook said it paused the practice after other technology companies’ audio-collection programs faced scrutiny, according to the report. 

Facebook also hadn’t previously disclosed to users that third parties may review their audio, which has led some contractors to feel their work is unethical, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.