20 March 2020
Last year, major tech companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple were found to be listening to user audio recordings without notifying them. The aim was to improve voice recognition capabilities of their respective services but since users were unaware of the actions, it raised privacy concerns. This resulted in companies abandoning the process and now, Facebook has decided to be upfront about the goals, get user consent, and even reward them for agreeing.
Facebook has added a new program named Pronunciations to its Viewpoints app that it launched last month. It is a medium for users to grant permission to Facebook that they can access their audio recordings. They will be rewarded with 200 points for participating in the program and completing the task. The task includes saying "Hey Portal" followed by the first name of any of your Facebook friends. The voice needs to be recorded twice where the second recording seems to be for confirmation purposes.
A user can repeat the task with up to 10 names after which they will receive 200 points. The Viewpoints app lets users redeem 1,000 points to get paid $5 through PayPal. It is clear that the task is not sufficient enough for hitting the payout threshold. This is the reason Facebook is said to considering allowing users to offer five sets of recordings that will result in 1,000 points.
It is worth noting that the program is accessible to only those users who are at least 18 years of age and have at least 75 friends on the social network. It can be accessed only through the Viewpoints app available for Android and iOS devices. Lastly, Facebook has said that none of the audio recordings will be linked to personal accounts. It further added that all Viewpoint activities are kept private and do not get shared with Facebook or Facebook-owned accounts without explicit permission from the user.