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Zoom’s Emotion Tracking Technology Gets Major Backlash
May. 16, 2022
Zoom’s Emotion Tracking Technology Gets Major Backlash

Zoom’s Emotion Tracking Technology Gets Major Backlash

Zoom’s newly announced ‘Q for Sales’ emotion tracking feature has created a lot of controversy—not only amongst the public and users, but among 28 human rights groups.

In a nutshell, the technology uses AI to attempt to identify and track users’ emotional states. It does this by analyzing a series of plotted points around the face, the speakers’ intonation, body language, rate of speech, and length of pauses between words and sentences.

Zoom developed the technology with the intention of offering it as a premium feature for sales calls to see how potential clients react to various parts of a conversation in real-time. Sales reps could then adjust their strategy accordingly.

It could also be used in virtual classes to gauge how interested the students are. Class material could then be improved based on the resulting data.

Human rights groups, including Fight for the Future, cited several ways that they believe the feature violates human rights. They criticized the app for being based on speculative science, and condemned it as discriminatory and racist.

Privacy, Data, and Legality Concerns

Another issue with Zoom’s Q for Sales is privacy and data collection, storage, and protection. If certain users’ data were to get into the wrong hands, it could be disastrous for them and others.

And would clients ever knowingly consent to the use of emotion tracking technology? If a client were to discover that a partner had used the technology without their knowing, it could cause them to terminate their relationship.

Then there’s the risk of law suits on top of that. If a client could prove that they were manipulated during contract negotiations with emotion tracking software, they could be in for a large settlement or judgment in their favor.

Does Emotion Tracking Technology Even Work?

The assumption is that you can infer a lot about people’s facial expressions, and the implications of this suggest a lot of potential to increase profits by offering a unique advantage to sales teams and other users of the proposed new tech.

But according to the Association for Psychological Science, your face doesn’t always reflect your actual emotional state. That means emotion tracking technology—at least the part associated with reading facial movements—is not going to be accurate.

That’s not to say that the technology (which is in its infancy) won’t be developed over the years to be more and more accurate, presumably by becoming less reliant on facial data input.

But human rights groups aim to put a stop to that before it ever starts.

Zoom’s Response

Zoom has not yet responded to human rights groups allegations, but they have discontinued features in the past due to privacy concerns. Their attention tracking software was discontinued after backlash. However, Zoom IQ for Sales is currently active, and includes some emotion analysis tools that serve as the precursor to the new, yet-to-be-released Q for Sales feature.


Zoom’s emotion tracking technology might be revolutionary, but many believe that it violates users’ privacy and crosses the line into unauthorized and unwanted surveillance. Undoubtedly, Zoom could make a huge profit if its Q for Sales tech sees a release, but with so much pushback against its use, it seems unlikely at this stage that they’ll be able to.

Not only that, once the general public caught on, who would want to do a Zoom call as opposed to Microsoft Teams or Google Meet as long as they weren’t using emotion tracking software too?