Facebook Tells the Cops When You Talk About Criminal Activity in Private Messages

August 8, 2015   |   admintam

Kristan T. Harris
August 8, 2015

(RUNDOWNLIVE) Facebook has a new little known software that monitors your profile chat and pictures for criminal activity. The software will proceed to alert an employee at the company who will then decide whether to call authorities or not.

The software will monitor individuals who have a ‘loose’ relationship on social media networks, according to an interview with Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan.

Reuters interview with the security officer explains,  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.

“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,” Sullivan told Reuters.

The software has been used to help gather information on potential murder suspects as well. In just one case, 62 pages of information, pictures, chat and posts where gathered and handed over to local authorities by Facebook in a recent subpoena request.

Facebook most likely wants to keep this software secret since most people do not think fondly of someone rummaging around their private messages and photos looking for criminal activities. Also how far is this system willing to go and will they soon pursue minor crimes or even thought crime?


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Author: admintam

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33 Comments

  1. Privacy began rapidly erroding the day Al Gore invented the internet. It will not stop until we form our own private networks. Period.

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  6. I'm a criminal defense attorney. I have three hundred friends who are also criminal defense attorneys (of different ages, genders, physical locations). I also have friends who are prosecutors, cops, and judges. What are the chances that I don't use phrases that their software regards as suspicious?

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  7. Andrew Terry It's been done already aka "The Darknet" accessed through Tor for example, it doesn't exactly solve the problem though because the agents can access too and apply their rules but it's a start. Bittorent are also releasing a new way to share torrents in that the tracker data is kept on users machines like the torrents themselves rather than a central server making it immune to current enforcement methods (going and kicking the door down of the hoster). BitCoins are another example that's arisen out of necessity for currency without surveilance. Forming private networks won't do anything in itself, unless Monte means private as in encrypted, we don't need a seperate infrastructure it can and does use the current system, it's using technology to protect privacy that will thats why for example David Cameron is trying to ban encryption on the Internet because they can't defeat it or it takes too much resource to defeat everyones traffic which they do want, assume 1trillion guesses per second on a password/ecryption key crack attempt as their capability as Edward Snowden put it, they can break peoples of interests encryption but not everyones it's too expensive hence the trying to change the law. In a nutshell, theres already a technological arms race between different members of the Internet and the government,it's just who wins that decides our fate for a long time.. my opinion.

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  8. The US government owns something like half of the TOR nodes. .. it's not exactaly sade… if you want privacy, don't use social media. Done

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  10. better use something fit for secure chats between businesses if you don't want it to be monitored.

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  15. No big deal. FB seldom does anything about illegal activity. How often do they say dog fighting is perfectly fine?

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  16. That is really interesting facebook has that kind of technology. I wonder how this would hold up in court and effect your criminal defense. My dad always told me you need to be careful what you put online, because it will stay there forever.
    http://www.tcortrialatty.com/criminal-defense

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