Facebook Monitors Potentially Illegal Posts, Chats

The social media giant scans conversations and posts for potential illegal activity. Should they be found questionable, Facebook representatives reach out to police.

Using data recognition software, Facebook employees monitor certain users' posts and chats, scanning them for potentially illegal activity which in some cases has led the social media giant to contact police, CNET reports

In March, according to a report in Reuters, Facebook software detected that a man in his 30s was talking about sex with a 13-year-old Florida girl and the two planned to meet up after she got out of middle school the following day. Representatives from the company then contacted police, who arrested the man before the meeting occurred. 

According to the report on CNET, the company isn't actively monitoring all communications on Facebook, as it wants its users to maintain their privacy. The software the company uses to analyze communications which are potentially illegal has a low false-positive rate, Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan told Reuters. CNET reports:

Facebook's software focuses on conversations between members who have a loose relationship on the social network. For example, if two users aren't friends, only recently became friends, have no mutual friends, interact with each other very little, have a significant age difference, and/or are located far from each other, the tool pays particular attention.

The scanning program looks for certain phrases found in previously obtained chat records from criminals, including sexual predators (because of the Reuters story, we know of at least one alleged child predator who is being brought before the courts as a direct result of Facebook's chat scanning). The relationship analysis and phrase material have to add up before a Facebook employee actually looks at communications and makes the final decision of whether to ping the authorities.

For more information on Facebook's privacy settings, click here


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