The News Today
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11.18.19
Outsourcing Privacy

Outsourced Workers Are Training AIs With Your Private FB Posts

May 6th 19__Victor Tangermann__Filed Under: Future Society
Tag Hartman-Simkins

Labeling by Hand

Reuters reports that millions of “Facebook photos, status updates and other content posted since 2014,” including private posts, have been combed over by outsourced workers in India in order to train the company’s AI and develop new features.

It’s yet another example of the social media network’s careless handling of its billions of users’ privacy — giving third party contractors access to data that’s technically labelled as “private” is not a good look.

Outsource Force

Outsourcing firm Wipro Ltd oversaw efforts to label posts and categorize them into five “dimensions,” as Facebook reportedly called them, including the subject, occasion, or intention of each post. About 200 more content labeling projects are in the works, according to Reuters, employing thousands more contracted workers.

The posts include anything from vacation photos to memorials of deceased family members — and yes, they are sometimes tied to user names, company officials told Reuters.

“We make it clear in our data policy that we use the information people provide to Facebook to improve their experience and that we might work with service providers to help in this process,” a Facebook spokeswoman told Reuters.

Bad Record

Previous privacy concerns have been raised around Facebook’s treatment of the data it collects. The company got caught storing “hundreds of millions” of account passwords in plain text in March.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that the social giant wants to clear its name. Its F8 developer’s conference at the end of last month was dedicated to brushing up its tarnished reputation, including declaring that it was fully committed to ensuring its users’ privacy.

But if the bad news keep rolling in, that kind of message will ring hollow.

READ MORE: Facebook ‘labels’ posts by hand, posing privacy questions [Reuters]

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