Facebook Scans the Photos and Links You Send on Messenger

  • System seeks to detect content that violates standards
  • Company on the defensive about how this handles private data

Fb Inc. scans backlinks and images that people send one another on Facebook Messenger, and says chats when they’ re flagged to moderators, making sure the content abides by the company’ s rules. If this doesn’ t, it gets obstructed or taken down.

The company confirmed the particular practice after an interview published previously this week with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg raised questions about Messenger’ ersus practices and privacy. Zuckerberg informed Vox’ s Ezra Klein a story about getting a phone call related to ethnic cleansing within Myanmar. Facebook had detected individuals trying to send sensational messages with the Messenger app, he said.

“ In that case, our systems detect what’ s going on, ” Zuckerberg mentioned. “ We stop those communications from going through. ”

Some people responded with concern on Twitter: Had been Facebook reading messages more usually? Facebook has been under scrutiny within recent weeks over how this handles users’ private data as well as the revelation struck a nerve. Messenger doesn’ t use the data from your scanned messages for advertising, the company stated, but the policy may extend outside of what Messenger users expect.

Reading more: Zuckerberg’ s date with Our elected representatives is set

The business told Bloomberg that while Messenger discussions are private, Facebook scans all of them and uses the same tools to avoid abuse there that it does around the social network more generally. All articles must abide by the same " local community standards. " People can record posts or messages for violating those standards, which would prompt an overview by the company’ s “ neighborhood operations” team. Automated tools may also do the work.

“ For example , on Messenger, when you deliver a photo, our automated systems check out it using photo matching technologies to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a hyperlink, we scan it for adware and spyware or viruses, ” a Fb Messenger spokeswoman said in a declaration. “ Facebook designed these automatic tools so we can rapidly cease abusive behavior on our platform. ”

Messenger used to be element of Facebook’ s main service, prior to it was spun off into a individual application in 2014. Facebook’ ersus other major chat app, WhatsApp, encrypts both ends of its users’ communications, so that not even WhatsApp can easily see it — a fact that’ h made it more secure for users, and much more difficult for lawmakers wanting details in investigations. Messenger also has a good encrypted option, but users need to turn it on.

The company updated its information policy and suggested new terms of service upon Wednesday to clarify that Messenger and Instagram use the same guidelines as Facebook. “ We much better explain how we combat abuse plus investigate suspicious activity, including simply by analyzing the content people share, ” Facebook said in a blog post.

Facebook is on the protective after revelations that private information through about 50 million users ended up in the hands of political ad-data firm Cambridge Analytica without their particular consent. Zuckerberg has agreed to state before the House next week and is keeping a conference call on Wednesday mid-day to discuss changes to Facebook personal privacy policies. (Follow the call on the TOPLive blog. )

The organization is working to make its personal privacy policies clearer, but still ends up along with gaps between what it says customers have agreed to, and what users believe they actually agreed to.

The Messenger scanning systems “ are very similar to those that other web companies use today, ” the business said.

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