Facebook to Monitor Chat Activity

Facebook is taking a bite out of crime. The giant social network is now working with law enforcement “to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook,” as reported a page on their site.

As addicted to FB as most people are these days, many are not aware of the smorgasbord of safety resources available on this page including:

  • How Facebook works with law enforcement
  • How to inform authorities to get in touch with Facebook
  • How to report criminal activity or other violation
  • How to obtain content from a user’s account via a civil subpoena
  • How to secure a hacked account

The company intends on monitoring users by eavesdropping on their chats and filtering out any suspicious or criminal activity – and reporting any such behavior to the authorities.

Facebook will conduct the screening process via new software which automatically skims chats and scavenges for words or phrases that indicate any leery activity including the exchange of personal information or offensive language. The software has been developed to hone in on conversations between users who do not share a pre-established relationship, or a profile data that seems amiss such as a wide age difference between the chatters. The “smart” software is also “trained” to weed out bits of conversation that may be similar or previously gathered from chat records of actual criminals.

In the event that the software stumbles upon a devious exchange, the program automatically alerts the Facebook security staff who then assess whether or not the chat behavior does in fact merit report to the police. Whether the chats, which are scanned before transference to authorities, are erased or archived is not yet known.

Specifics about Facebook’s new supervising agenda were released in an interview in which Facebook’s Chief Security Officer, Joe Sullivan, gave to Reuters. According to Reuters’ report, there has been at least one alleged child predator who has been brought to trial because of the new monitoring system.

In regards to Facebook’s new Big brother, the company states:

“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.”

Until now, Facebook has for the most part dodged discussing its safety practices in order to deject scare stories since users could be discouraged from playing on the network if they feel there is a reason to be concerned about their safety. Likewise, users who are aware of the extent to which their conversations are being monitored may also be anxious about chatting on Facebook and dissuaded from using the network altogether.

In the Reuters’ report, Sullivan also stated, “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.” (Hence the reason why Facebook does not perform deep queries into chats between users with pre-existing connections).

For more information of Facebook’s security system including tools and resources for teens, parents and teachers, and detailed information about how Facebook works with law enforcement to keep you protected, visit here.

Visit Consumer Priority Service to keep updated on Facebook and other social networks’ new security measures – and while you’re at it, don’t forget to secure your gadgets with a warranty from CPS!