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Daily News Roundup: Your Private Facebook Posts Are Being Read By Workers

A report from Reuters states that Facebook is sharing private posts with contracted workers to help train its AI. That means real-life people are probably reading your private posts. This sounds all too familiar.

The report suggests that Facebook outsources this task to an Indian company called Wipro, where as many as 260 workers comb through upwards of 700 posts each and every day. Every post is cross-checked by two different workers to make sure they’re each getting labeled correctly.

So what exactly are they doing? The process is ambiguously called “data annotation”—they’re categorizing and labeling posts so AI can better learn what it’s seeing. They note the type of content—a selfie, food, or an animal, for example. They also have to include the author’s intent; are they making a joke, trying to inspire others, or plan an event? The imagination would suggest that last bit could get a little murky in certain situations.

While the report itself is pretty straightforward, there seem to be some conflicting feelings coming from Facebook employees (and former employees). The company’s director of product management for AI, Nipun Mathur, told Reuters that “it’s a core part of what you need” and that he doesn’t “see the need going away.” A former Facebook privacy manager, however, had different feelings on the matter, expressing unease with users’ information being scrutinized without explicit consent.

But on the other side of that coin, a Facebook spokesperson claims that the data policy “makes it clear…we use the information people provide to Facebook to improve their experience and that we might work with service providers to help with this process.” In other words: this is what you signed up for—according to Facebook, at least.

All that is to say one thing: in this day and age, “private” never really means private—it just means that you don’t know who is really seeing it. I guess you could make everything public and alleviate the issue altogether, heh. [Reuters via The Verge]

In other news, OnePlus made a questionable video about the 7’s waterproofing features, WWDC rumors, more Chrome OS virtual desktop development, and more.

  • OnePlus threw the 7 in a bucket of water, then said not to do that: OnePlus is a company that has a history of making questionable marketing decisions, and its recent video highlighting the OnePlus 7’s waterproofing is a good example. It shows the phone thrown into a bucket of water, during which some text at the bottom of the screen basically says “don’t do this.” The phone doesn’t have IP certification, which apparently costs more money than the company wants to spend. All this does is leave a lot of questions about how waterproof the phone really is. [The Verge, TechRadar]
  • WWDC rumors aplenty: Bloomberg reported a bunch of WWDC rumors for this year, including iOS 13, macOS 10.15, watchOS 6, a new tvOS, and a lot more. Per the norm, however, take it all with a grain of salt until it’s actually confirmed. [Bloomberg]
  • More Chrome OS virtual desktop development: Last week we talked about virtual desktops in Chrome OS, and over the weekend a couple more videos popped up that show even more development. It looks so good. [Chrome Unboxed]
  • Google is going to rebrand Express as Google Shopping: We’ll likely hear more about this at I/O, but it looks like Google is gearing up to “rapidly” expand Google Express and rebrand it to Google Shopping. Neat. [9to5Google]
  • A hacker is holding Git repositories for ransom: The hacker is reportedly wiping them clean, then threatening to release the code if victims don’t pay the ransom within ten days. Wow. [ZDNet]
  • Update Chrome for Android without visiting the Play Store: Google is testing a new update method in Chrome Canary for Android that will allow users to update it without first going to the Play Store. [Techdows]
  • More than half of Bitcoin nodes are running vulnerable code: There are more than 100,000 Bitcoin nodes, and half of them are running vulnerable code. That’s unsettling. [The Next Web]

Over the weekend, CNBC had an absolutely fascinating writeup about cybercriminal organizations. It turns out they often follow the same model as real companies, including competing with each other for customers, hiring project managers, and even having “CEOs” to keep everything organized and on track. All to steal data, money, and identities of others. Unreal.

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Cameron Summerson Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson is the Editor in Chief of Review Geek and serves as an Editorial Advisor for How-To Geek and LifeSavvy. He’s been covering technology for nearly a decade and has written over 4,000 articles and hundreds of product reviews in that time. He’s been published in print magazines and quoted as a smartphone expert in the New York Times.
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