In an interview with Vox, the Facebook CEO spoke about a moment when Facebook’s software detected messages being sent through Messenger that were trying to incite harm in Myanmar and then as a result, the company had been able to intervene.
“I remember, one Saturday morning, I got a phone call and we detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages through — it was Facebook Messenger in this case — to each side of the conflict, basically telling the Muslims, “Hey, there’s about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.” And then the same thing on the other side” he said.
“So that’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm. Now, in that case, our systems detect that that’s going on. We stop those messages from going through. But this is certainly something that we’re paying a lot of attention to.”
This look more like a justification for spying on users to me. He clearly admitted Facebook does scan users messages but terrorist is always the excuse just like the security services world wide.
When asked by HuffPost how the company scans everyone’s messages it replied saying that it was using the same algorithm that’s found on Facebook and would only be scanning for images or links. The software scans links and images for illegal content.
Facebook went on to confirm that it does not read text within your messages and would only do so if a message had been flagged to a moderator.
The system has been designed to crack down on inappropriate or illegal imagery such as child exploitation and to also prevent the spread of fake news among communities.
“For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware/viruses. Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behaviour on our platform.” explained the company in a statement.
Facebook however said that its scanning technology was not used in any way to inform advertising.
While Messenger doesn’t use end-to-end encryption, apps like WhatsApp are encrypted by default.
Facebook is able to scan the content of your messages on Messenger because it doesn’t use end-to-end encryption by default. Instead Messenger has an opt-in setting called Secret Conversations that enables end-to-end encryption however you have to activate that for each message individually.
Other companies like WhatsApp, Apple’s iMessage and Signal all use end-to-end encryption by default so they couldn’t read your messages even if they wanted to.