Report: Facebook monitors your chats for criminal activity

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Mashable is reporting that Facebook is one of several social platforms that are monitoring users’ chats for criminal activity with the intent to notify police if suspicious behavior is detected.

According to the report, software that the company is using flags certain words and phrases — the exchange of personal information and even vulgar language are two examples. The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t have an established connection and users who have large age gaps. If a user has a criminal record, the software always flags chats with certain phrases.

Once those chats or users have been flagged, the software notifies Facebook security employees, who have the final say in whether or not police are notified.

In an interview Facbook’s Joe Sullivan gave to Reuters, the company’s Chief Security Officer cited at least one alleged child predator who had been brought to trial as a direct result of Facebook’s chat scanning.

It is not known if the chats the software flags are deleted or permanently stored.

When asked to respond to the report, officials from Facebook said, “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.”