Facebook monitors conversations for unlawful activity

By on July 14, 2012
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Chat records that have been found previously from criminals aids the software to look out for phrases.


Scanning for unlawful activities, the social-networking giant detects suspicious behavior, flags the content, and informs the police if need be, reports CNET. Joe Sullivan, the Chief Security Officer of Facebook, in an interview with Reuters shed some light into it.

Excerpt from the interview: “A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day.”

Members, having a loose relationship on the network are paid more attention to by the monitoring software, looking in to conversations for data mining. Particular attention is paid to instances when two users are not friends, have a significant age difference, have no friends in common and located far from each other.

Chat records that have been found previously from criminals aids the software to look out for phrases. Before a Facebook employee decides to alert the authorities, the phrases and the relationship analysis have to match. Sullivan continues, “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 is a well-known fact that Facebook cooperates well with the police authorities. However, the existence of a monitoring technology might raise privacy concerns among the users.


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