Facebook Entrusts Indian Workers to Label Millions of Private Photos

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Reuters is reporting that Facebook has had a team of 260 workers ‘labeling’ photos posted on the social media platform since early 2018. Based in Hyderabad, the contract workers are tasked with categorizing millions of photos, statuses, and other posted content. 

The controversy overthe social network’s privacy policy continues to grow as new revelations of ‘image labeling’ has been brought to the public’s attention. According to Reuters, Facebook has been hiring a team of contract workers in India to ‘label’ images, statuses, and other content, working through millions of entries going as far back as 2014.

Private Parts

The workers are instructed to categorize the content based on five dimensions. For example, if the photo is of an event, or if the author trying to inspire others. Its aim in collecting the information is to roll out some ‘new features’ and to also better target its ads. It wishes to categorize posted content to better ‘understand’ its users and individually cater its services for them.

Each piece of content is checked by two workers for accuracy. Each worker is expected to label some 700 items per day on both Instagram and Facebook. Private posts are made completely accessible, even showing users’ names and other private information. The news is yet another example of Facebook showing no understanding of privacy rights.

The contracted firm based in Hyderabad, India has been a secret since it began operations for Facebook in 2018. Named WiPro, the news was leaked by multiple employees who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Facebook, having no choice, later confirmed details of the secret project. WiPro, however, declined to comment.

Instead of acknowledging its wrongs, Facebook has instead doubled down and called data mining as ‘necessary’ for its AI programs. “It’s a core part of what you need,” said Nipun Mathur, the director of product management for AI at Facebook. “I don’t see the need going away.”

Is This Really Necessary?

Facebook claims that its content labeling by a contracted firm in India is ‘necessary’ for its AI—but do any users even want this? More importantly, can the ‘new features’ this data-mining requires really be more important than basic privacy rights?

It seems clear that Facebook’s only real reason for contracting this obscure team in India is simply to boost its revenue model. It want to tailor ads individually to make them more effective and increase revenue. All claims of ‘bettering Facebook’s features’ are all smoke and mirrors.

In all, Facebook shows the dark hole of trust that is centralization. Worst of all, the public only knows a small fraction of the extent of its data-miningand meddling. Sadly, as it stands now, we have few alternatives when it comes to social applications of a similar caliber.

As the controversy continues to build under the surface, it is only a matter of time before this all comes to a head. Eventually, the social media giant will face a true, decentralized competitor—and it’s only then that it will finally start to regret the complete collapse of the public’s trust in it.

Will you be staying on Facebook any longer? Do you agree that we need decentralized alternatives? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. 


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Raised in the U.S, Lucian graduated with a BA in economic history. An accomplished freelance journalist, he specializes in writing about the cryptocurrency space and the digital '4th industrial revolution' we find ourselves in. <a href="mailto:crypto.inquiries@protonmail.com">Email.</a>

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