Facebook Spies on Chats For “Suspicious Behavior”
July 13, 2012 2 Comments
Facebook is now using software that tracks private conversations for suspicious behavior and keywords before alerting Facebook employees who then decide whether to pass the information on to police. Be careful what you disclose in your Facebook conversations.
Facebook cites the need to watch for potential sexual offenders as the reasoning behind using the new tracking software. Despite the fact that internet-related sex crimes against children are on the decrease, Facebook feels the need to install the software because there have been a few cases where children were targeted on the popular social media website.
The software used by Facebook to monitor conversations works by searching “for improper communication” and analyzing “patterns of behavior.” What does improper communication qualify as? What kinds of “patterns of behavior” are they monitoring? It seems as if anything you decide to post onto Facebook, and now the chat messaging system, is subject to monitoring by a third-party company.
Words or phrases considered vulgar or an attempt to exchange personal information are red flagged and brought to the attention of Facebook employees, who then decide whether the content is worthy of being brought to the attention of law enforcement. Too many messages sent without response also sets off an alarm that characterizes the content as suspicious. It is not yet known if chat records are stored.
On its website, Facebook acknowledges that it shares information about users even in the absence of a court order or other legal request.
Facebook has been caught in a number of privacy controversies in recent years. Back in February, the company angrily denied a report by the Sunday Times which claimed Facebook was secretly reading texts sent by users of its Android app. The U.S. government is actively involved in soliciting information from Facebook. Last month, the State Department issued a procurement request seeking tools that can provide “deep analysis of topics, conversations, networks, and influencers of the global social web.”
Your privacy (if there ever was any) on Facebook has gone out the window with this new tracking software. Anything you talk about with your friends in the chat is scanned and monitored, and you have no idea who is reading your conversations. While it might seem as a good ploy to catch sexual offenders and other criminals, there is big potential for this system to be abused. My advice would be to restrict as much information you disclose on the social media site as possible, knowing as soon as you post or chat about anything, someone else you don’t know is reading it.
Don’t incriminate yourself for no reason.