Facebook Messenger is routinely monitoring users' conversations using both human moderators and automatic tools, but it has a good reason for it.
The social media network has been embroiled in a number of scandals lately regarding its data collection practices and privacy policies. In the latest controversy, the company acknowledged that roughly 87 million Facebook accounts may have been compromised.
The Facebook Messenger matter doesn't involve anything like that, however, as the monitoring is deliberate and with a clear purpose. Facebook Messenger is currently among the most popular messaging platforms worldwide and users exchange billions of messages on a daily basis.
Facebook Messenger Monitoring Conversations
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview that raised several questions regarding the privacy and practices of the company's Messenger. At the time, Zuckerberg said that Facebook can detect when people attempt to send inappropriate messages through Messenger.
Bloomberg subsequently reached out to Facebook and later reported that Messenger is scanning the photos and links that users send to each other, and it's also reading text conversations when a moderator flags them. The company does this to ensure the content exchanged via Facebook Messenger complies with its rules. If it violates said rules, Facebook would block or remove the abusive content.
Facebook Messenger Not Reading Text Messages
Following the Bloomberg report that made waves, Facebook said that the publication had misunderstood Zuckerberg's statements and that Messenger does not in fact read text conversations.
Instead, Facebook has an automated system in place to scan the photos and links shared in conversations. While the company does have human moderators as well, they only get involved when certain messages or posts get reported.
"Keeping your messages private is the priority for us, we protect the community with automated systems that detect things like known images of child exploitation and malware," Slashgear cites a Facebook spokesperson. "This is not done by humans."
Why Does Facebook Messenger Scan Conversations?
Upon sending images or links through Facebook Messenger, automated systems scan such content to determine whether they contain child exploitation, abusive content, viruses, or malware.
These automatic systems are designed to detect such abusive content and stop it from spreading through its platform, not keep track of users' private messages and conversations.
Nevertheless, the news is still bound to spark more controversy and Facebook likely has more explaining to do on this matter, especially regarding how it determines which content is good and which violates its community guidelines.