In the latest among a string of high-profile data breaches and controversies, Facebook recently admitted to listening in on the voice calls of its users on Messenger. As reported by Bloomberg, hundreds of paid contractors were ordered by Facebook to record and transcribe private calls for the purpose of developing the network’s artificial intelligence capabilities.
Though Facebook said that the breach of privacy only affected users who gave their permission to be listened to, there appears to be no stipulation in the terms and conditions people agree to when they use the app.
The massive social media site has been hit with privacy-related concerns. Last year, it was embroiled in a public scandal after news broke that the profiles of up to 87 million people were collected by Cambridge Analytica, a company that uses personal information to sway public opinion ahead of big political campaigns. Of the 87 million, 1.1 million accounts were from the Philippines.
This case was settled in 2019, when Facebook paid a $5 billion fine to the Federal Trade Commission. This is peanuts to the company—they made $22 billion in profit just last year. Getting away with a mere slap on the wrist clearly didn’t teach Facebook any lessons. In fact, this recent scandal suggests that Facebook simply doesn’t value its users’ privacy at all.
There was also the issue of Russia alleged tampering with the 2016 US election. Moscow is being accused of using the Facebook accounts of countless Americans to formulate ads that bolstered its preferred candidate, Donald Trump, to the presidency.
Rival messaging platforms are already hot on Facebook Messenger’s heels. In a press release provided by messaging rival Viber, the company stated that user data on Viber is, by design, restricted to your eyes only. Hence, “it’s virtually impossible for any third party to listen in on your calls or read your messages”.