Just like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and even Apple, Facebook has, unsurprisingly, also been caught handing over audio clips to contractors without making it clear to users what they’re getting into. These companies have had different responses to save face but Facebook was surprisingly the most extreme, claiming to have ended that business weeks before the news exploded. Apparently, it was preparing a new program that not only required users to actually sign up to give their voice, they would also be paid for it.
Facebook is no stranger to paying users to voluntarily hand over pieces of themselves to the social media giant. It was recently caught and criticized running such a scheme under a slightly different name, bypassing and violating app store policies before at least Apple pulled the plug. It came back later with a more formal “research” app that practically did the same thing but is more upfront about it.
This new Pronunciations is part of that Facebook Viewpoints program and is more concerned about getting voice samples from users rather than answering surveys. Each participant in this program will need to say the “Hey Portal” trigger, followed by a friend’s name (don’t worry, Facebook already has your friends’ names anyway). Each session involves repeating the phrase twice for 10 friends.
If you think Facebook is out to profit from this, it isn’t. At least not directly. Viewpoints doesn’t pay research participants for a single session and have to accumulate 1,000 points to even qualify for a $5 payout. In this case, each session (10 friends, two phrases each) is equivalent to 200 points only.
Of course, these speech fragments are being used by Facebook to improve its machine learning systems so it will definitely benefit fro it in the long run. And considering the allure of monetary compensation, it won’t be a surprise if many Facebook users jump on the offer immediately, no matter potential costs.