Facebook has just become the latest big tech firm to confirm that external contractors are listening to audio of users’ private conversations. According to a Bloomberg report, Facebook has hired the contractors to listen in to users taking advantage of the audio to text functionality in its Messenger service.
So, what should you do? Facebook users should really know by now that using Messenger for private conversations isn’t very secure. “Facebook already admits to scanning Messenger content such as text, images and links for many reasons so transcribing audio or video content is really just an add on to what they are already doing,” points out Jake Moore, cybersecurity specialist at ESET.
“Micro targeted advertising is their multimillion-dollar business so naturally there may be data within this audio which will add to people’s profile,” says Moore. “However, where this becomes a privacy matter or even grey area is, people wrongly tend to assume that this content is private from all eyes and ears.”
Personally, I don’t use Facebook Messenger at all: Services such as Signal are so much more secure for your daily communication. But is it time to delete Facebook entirely? Perhaps: After numerous hacks and privacy breaches, the Silicon Valley giant has done nothing to show it’s taking good care of your data.
If deleting your account entirely is too much, you could start with the app. Apple has already made a change that stops apps such as Facebook from collecting data in the background as it moves to try and improve user privacy.
If you care about your privacy, ethical hacker John Opdenakker recommends uninstalling the app. “If you still want to use Facebook and Messenger on your phone, at least check the app permissions and switch off access to the microphone if it’s enabled.”
You carry your phone around everywhere and that gives apps such as Facebook access to a lot of data. If you are concerned about that, why not just use it on your desktop instead?