By now, stories of privacy violations on social media are legion. So, reports that agents of Facebook may have been listening to conversations on its platform no longer have the shock value they might have had some years ago. But that doesn’t mean its users worry any less about being eavesdropped upon. According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook Inc has been hiring “outside (read human) contractors" to listen to audio conversations on Facebook Messenger. The report says that this “transcription" work was done for the voices of users who had opted to have their voice chats transcribed. The purpose was reportedly to gauge the accuracy of its automatic transcription tool.

While the company has said that it has stopped involving human transcription agents, Facebook users seem unmollified. Whether an outright violation was committed remains unclear, but the company’s tool-testing mechanism clearly goes against the spirit of confidentiality. Users who gave their consent to have their voice chats transcribed would reasonably have expected their voices to be heard only by machines equipped with artificial intelligence. That actual ears were used would naturally evoke anger.

The latest revelation couldn’t have come at a worse time for Facebook. Just recently, the company was slapped with a $5 billion penalty by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission following a probe of its privacy practices. Perhaps the social network firm could comfort itself with the knowledge that it’s not the only one under the scanner for being needlessly nosey. There are others too, including big names that have held privacy aloft as a corporate ideal.

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