Many social platforms, such as Facebook are now undertaking processes to monitor the chat activity of its user base to weed out criminality. Once they find such activity online or supect such activity is present, they can reach out to authorities.
This monitoring is done through software scanners that monitors chat exchanges for words or phrases that signal criminal activity, such as exchange of personal information or vulgarity. The focus would be those users that don’t have an established connection on the site together with some other personal information disparity between users, such as age difference. The scanning system also learns, using previous chat discussions of known felons and predators using the social media platform.
Once the software flags a dubious chat discussion, an email is sent to Facebook security employees who then determines if the police should step in. This may cause privacy advocates to turn on the purveyors of Facebook, as it must keep these scanned exchanges away from its other employees.
The new security measures from Facebook was mentioned in the interview of the company’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan with Reuters News Wire. According to the report, at least one alleged child predator has been brought to court due to the efforts made by Facebook’s chat scanning software.
When asked for comment, Facebook gave a standard response, “We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate.”
It further added, through a statement on the site, the company works with law enforcement where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook. It read:
“We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.
“We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.”
This has been done before, but is this a so-called public service?