In the past few months, there have been a couple of technology firms who were caught out for listening to their users private conversations without their knowledge. Most notable was Apple who suspended its audio scrubbing programme in order to stay on the right side of consumers.
Now Facebook is planning to do some scrubbing of its own, but the company is aiming to be more transparent about it, confirming earlier this week that it is willing to pay users for their voice recordings.
This new programme is called Pronunciations, and falls under the firm’s Viewpoints research app. Users will need to meet certain parameters in order to qualify for the program Facebook adds, so it remains to be seen what kind of rollout is planned. If the firm indeed wants to improve its quality of speech recognition, casting as wide a net as possible seems the best route in our opinion.
For now Facebook explains those who qualify will be required to record the phrase, “Hey Portal”, which is then followed by the name of a friend on your friend list. Given the key phrase above, it looks as if this voice recognition programme is designed with Facebook’s Portal tool in mind, which currently works off of Amazon’s Alexa as its native assistant.
As for your payment, it may not be the most exciting, with a complete set of recordings earning users 200 points in the Viewpoints app. Cashing out, however, requires a minimum of 1000 points, which translates to $5 (~R75) so you’d need to do at least five recordings to make it worthwhile.
It’s a lot of admin for a small payout, so it remains to be seen if there will be a big uptake on the offer.
Regardless of that though, we are at least pleased to see Facebook take a more transparent approach to how it collects voice data.