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Instagram Denies Spying on User Conversations

2019-6-28

The head of Instagram said this week that the social networking service was not spying on conversations among Instagram users.

Some people have accused the company of listening to their microphones in order to know which advertisements to show them.

Adam Mosseri told the program “CBS This Morning” that Instagram does not listen to private conversations.

"We don't look at your messages, we don't listen in on your microphone," he said. "Doing so would be super problematic for a lot of different reasons.”

Mosseri admitted that his claims were hard to believe.

"I recognize you're not going to really believe me," he told reporter Gayle King.

FILE - Adam Mosseri, then-Vice President of Product Management for Facebook, speaks during the 2016 TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, California, U.S. Sept. 14, 2016.
FILE - Adam Mosseri, then-Vice President of Product Management for Facebook, speaks during the 2016 TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, California, U.S. Sept. 14, 2016.

King had repeatedly asked Mosseri about how users would get ads for things they had spoken about but never searched.

Mosseri gave two possible explanations.

"There's two ways it could happen,” he said. One is luck, “which can happen."

"Repeatedly?" King asked.

"The second is you might be talking about something because it's top of mind...I think this kind of thing happens often in a way that's really subtle," he later said.

Also on the program, King asked Mosseri about videos known as "deepfakes." A deepfake gives the appearance of an individual doing something that did not actually happen. Often, these videos are very realistic, making it difficult for viewers to know the difference.

Recently, a deepfake video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was published on Instagram. It appeared to show Zuckerberg admitting to being in possession of stolen user information. The user who posted the video noted it was not factual.

Reacting to questions about the removal of deepfakes on Instagram, Mosseri said the company was working on a plan of action. But he said his company would not remove the video of Zuckerberg.

"We are not going to make a one-off decision to take a piece of video down just because it's of Mark and Mark happens to run this place," he said. "We need to have defined principles and we need to be transparent about those principles."

I’m Alice Bryant.

Alice Bryant adapted it for Learning English from VOA News report. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

conversationn. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people

microphonen. a device into which people speak or sing in order to record their voices or to make them sound louder

subtleadj. hard to notice or see

viewern. a person who sees or looks at something

principlen. a moral rule or belief that helps you know what is right and wrong

transparentadj. honest and open