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In what Reuters called the company’s “most expansive comments on the subject to date”, Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said that the monitoring software analyzes relationships to find suspicious conversations between unlikely pairings, i.e., between people of widely varying ages who only have loose and/or newly formed relationships, for example.
The technology also relies on archives of real-life chats that preceded sexual assaults, Sullivan told Reuters.
Content needs to be reported before it’s taken down or reviewed, a spokesperson says.The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to charges of soliciting a minor.Facebook doesn’t talk much about this technology, which scans postings and chats for criminal activity.It’s easy to see why Facebook doesn’t talk about it much: the last thing the company wants is for its users to feel like they’re being eavesdropped on, Sullivan said: To avoid coming off as eavesdroppers, Facebook also avoids probing what it interprets as pre-existing relationships, Sullivan said.
Reining in its monitoring technology is understandable in light of not wanting to be perceived as Big Brother, but as Reuters pointed out, a low false-positive rate has the serious downside of letting many dangerous communications go through unflagged.
Duncan estimates that for every predator the police intercept due to tips from Facebook and other companies, another ten get through the system undetected.