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Should Facebook Monitor Chats to Help Snag Child Predators?

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Should Facebook Monitor Chats to Help Snag Child Predators?
[ Social Media]

Let’s face it; social media and privacy are always going to be two warring parties. Sure, privacy controls help users define who can see what on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest (and some sites offer simpler, more accessible privacy options than others). But in the end, social networks are social – you’re actively sharing content with the world. Anybody who thinks they can maintain a pristine level of privacy and security while still enjoying the benefits of a social community is probably deluding themselves.

Facebook is no stranger to user privacy scandals. Scenarios involving information sharing and user tracking have popped up in the last couple of years. The FTC has even stepped in and performed their own investigations.

And recently, it was revealed that Facebook actively patrols user communications for unlawful activities. Is this a privacy betrayal from a company that sits on so much personal information about the country’s inhabitants? Or is it a social good that allows Facebook to help prevent violent crimes, especially those involving children? Let us know in the comments.

A Winnipeg man is being charged with sexual assault, sexual interference, and internet luring after Facebook intercepted communications between him and a 13-year-old girl. According to Winnipeg police, the chat messages were sexual in nature, and were brought to their attention by Facebook near the end of July.

If the phrase “Facebook intercepted communications” caught your attention, I don’t blame you. And I can’t say that it’s not exactly what you’re thinking – Facebook is actively monitoring our chats and messages. Early last month, the company revealed that it’s common practice for their teams to scan chats, searching for criminal activity. It’s mostly algorithms that handle this part, but once something is flagged Facebook employees make the final decision on whether or not it merits calling the authorities.

Facebook algorithms give more weight to communications between users that don’t really have a lot of connections. If two users have a giant age difference or live all the way across the country from each other – the conversation may be flagged. If two users don’t share many friends or have never interacted with each other before on the site – their conversation may be flagged.

So it’s fair to say that the “bad apple” conversations are going to be the ones most frequently caught up in the machine. But the final screening process for reporting malicious activity means that human eyes have to look at the chat transcripts – at least every now and then.

Back to Winnipeg, and to the 25-year-old man who was sending sexual messages to the underage girl. Authorities say that Facebook described the chats to them as “inappropriate” and “explicit.”

Although Facebook notified police of the chats in late July, the suspect wasn’t arrested until early last week.

And according to CNEWS, a sexual assault had already taken place. There’s no word on whether the police received the tip from Facebook before or after the alleged assault.

So, police now have the Facebook data to use in prosecution, but it didn’t actually stop a young girl from being sexually assaulted. It’s unclear if that’s because Facebook caught it late, police failed to act in time, or the assault had already occurred before anyone caught wind of the inappropriate chats. Really, it’s not right to blame anyone here except the pedophile who allegedly performed the violent acts – but it does show that Facebook’s monitoring program isn’t perfect.

However, it also demonstrates that it’s possible for Facebook to do some good with their chat monitoring. It’s also worked before (to perfection), according to Facebook.

When the chat monitoring story first broke, Facebook told Reuters a story of how the program had led to the arrest of a man who was in the process of soliciting a 13-year-old girl on the network. Here’s how Reuters told it:

A man in his early thirties was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook’s extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police.

Officers took control of the teenager’s computer and arrested the man the next day, said Special Agent Supervisor Jeffrey Duncan of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of soliciting a minor.

“The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible,” said Duncan, one of a half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed who praised Facebook for triggering inquiries.

There’s really no denying than it can work. Scanning chats for suspicious activity can help to thwart child predation.

Of course, there are still privacy concerns to consider. Not everyone is convinced that Facebook has the right to monitor “private” communications. Then again, you are using their (free) service to send and receive communications, and at least now it’s with the public knowledge that the company may be monitoring them. Plus, they are not the only ones engaging in this type of monitoring.

Facebook won’t comment on the particulars of the Winnipeg case, but they tell me that they have zero tolerance for this type of activity and are “extremely agressive” in reporting it to the authorities.

Here’s their full statement:

We have zero tolerance for this activity on Facebook and are extremely aggressive in preventing and identifying inappropriate contact as well as reporting it and the people responsible for it to law enforcement. We’re constantly refining and improving our systems and processes. However, we feel we’ve created a much safer environment on Facebook than exists off-line, where people can share this material in the privacy of their own homes without anyone watching.

Have they created a “much safer environment?” In your opinion, is it okay for Facebook to patrol chats in order to help identify possible criminals? Is it a good program conducted in good faith? Is it worth giving up a little bit of your privacy for the greater good?

Or do you think that Facebook should cease this type of monitoring? Let us know in the comments.

Should Facebook Monitor Chats to Help Snag Child Predators?


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  • http://Mabuzi.com Kevin

    It brings you privacy into perspective when your very chat and email is read by your provider.

  • Kim

    Yes I agree that chat should be monitored and reported for criminal activity.Facebook is a public site and should be treated as such.We all enjoy our privacy but I am willing to give up my privacy if it means catching these sick child predators and putting them behind bars where they belong.

    • http://Www.appdownloadoutlet.com Syd

      I am a believer in free speech etc but if it’s a matter of underage children or serious crime I think the parent side of me would chose safety first!

  • Juan

    Might as well face it folks…there is no such thing as privacy. At least not in the truest sense of the word there isn’t.

  • http://webpronews.com maria banfill

    YES. I agree that Facebook teams should monitor chat rooms for child predators. if people are concerned about a privacy issue of what they are discussing on a chat room, they should not be discussing it online. Maybe adults should refrain from questionable content themselves, if they are ashamed someone saw their discussion topic.

  • http://www.naza.com Nazareth

    YES! children’s safety should be more important then anybody’s privacy.

  • John

    How about being a good parent and keep your kids off FB? It is a site that was a SEX site to begin with, where college guys rated women they wanted to have sex with. You want to give up privacy so you can be a lazy irresponsible parent.

  • http://www.landcruise.com Graham Schreiber

    Sure!

    This should naturally be managed by the collective Police Forces of the world, from the local police in a small town, to RCMP to INTERPOL.

    Perhaps not so much Facebook as a private business, but access granted, into their systems, for this purpose, by such impartial agencies.

    Between > SEND RECEIVE < on the / inside the internet, one is in the public realm.

    Once they're caught, send them to populate Canada's Arctic and DON'T LET THEM BACK!

    Cheers, Graham.

  • http://www.vimeo.com/8336589 Brian

    The internet should be for adults only. Why bother with rating movies in theaters if the internet is available with all the “bad” stuff and much more on display for everyone anyway 24/7? The internet is not for kids. Any online site that is for kids is just trying to sell the kids something anyway. The internet is nothing more than one big advertisement hiding behind the disguise of tags and Flash. I do not want Facebook employees monitoring my activities anymore than I want any of you reading my email, listening to my phone calls or knowing what I am watching on my television (if I owned and watched a television). If there is a concern, then parents should be monitoring their children’s online activity. It is not the job of a for-profit company like Facebook. If you want your child to be safe, then keep them offline where a click can move a pedophile from a sex site to a teen chat site in one second.

  • Derrek

    Absolutely not. That is a violation of privacy. End of discussion.

  • Denise

    Heck yeah!! Catch the perverts any way you can! If you’re doing something you know it’s wrong and you’re posting on FB, then maybe you should find other venues to post your exploits.

  • Tim

    It always starts with a good intention, in this case, protecting children. But then it becomes the normal policy and begins to expand to include other noble causes and groups until… it includes everything and then you can’t go back. Private is private unless there is warrant!!!

  • Bill (Doc) Bennett, PhD

    Facebook is becoming a dictatorship and it is going beyond the bounds of protection to the “STATUS OF PEEPING TOM”. What is worse, is the government has exceeded their judicial bounds and is difficult to know who is following who’s lead for perversion and privacy invasions “FACEBOOK OR THE U.S.GOVERNMENT, HOMELAND SECURITY, or TOMMY THE PEEPER”.

  • Jim

    Not no but FUCK NO!
    Look: While Pedeo-pervs are the lowest form of scum, who appointed Face Book as a branch of Law Enforcement, as another arm of Big Brother?

    This is a serious issue, and these things always come to light in this same way. Specifically, to suggest, in this case, that to be against this kind of privacy invasion is practically saying that you support pedophiles. In fact, that’s just to put a good face on a nefarious practice. For instance, like when they told us that the UN-Patriot Act was only a weapon against terrorists. What else are the Face Book Police looking for? Hell why not use FB to alert the PoPo about partys where a little pot may be used? Or, since Face Fook knows that your only 20 years old, that there is an easy underage drinking bust this Saturday night? Or, perhaps to send the cops to question you when you tell a friend that you could “just kill” your husband for staying out late last night? Or any other number of things that could be deemed suspicious?

    Tell Face Book to get, and stay, the hell out of your chats and private messaging. As for 13 year old girls? Tell their parents to get off their asses and look at what their kids are doing! When my kids were children, I had their passwords, and would scan their e-mails and monitor the sights they went to. I guess that makes me a snoop–but that’s MY business–not Face Books’, or Googles’ or anyone else’s job!

    • Kathryn

      You got it right, Jim. Parents should be monitoring their children, not Facebook.

  • http://www.vimeo.com/8336589 Brian

    Monitoring chats and private messages did not start with the good intention of protecting children, but because it snagged a couple of pedophiles, it is now being touted as a child-saver to allow the monitoring to continue. If the monitoring had busted a cocaine smuggling ring or a counterfeit Gucci bag operation, they would be selling it from that angle.

    • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

      Agreed. Also, ‘monitoring’ does not necessarily equal watching every single message that goes back and forth and could be as unobtrusive as scanning for trigger words that when observed, bring in more through scanning which could then lead to human observation.

      In any event, had I a Facebook account, I’d have no problems having such a monitoring system in place.

      If I get concerned, I’ve got plenty of tin-foil lining the walls, ceilings, floors, foundation, trees, flowers, grass, driveway and sidewalk of my home so I’m good!

      I’m not sure about those crickets though, I think they are talking in code!

  • Ralph Hernandez

    no face book should not moniter conversations at all for any reason. If this me the case i will delete my facebook account.

    • http://foreverelegant.com Karen Miller

      Good luck trying to delete a Facebook account. It is easier said than done!

      • http://cass-hacks.com Craig

        I ended up not having THAT much of a problem deleting my account.

        I had to request its deletion and then wait a month, or so, for it to actually be deleted.

        Just in case I might want to change my mind, doncha know.

        But, that was quite some months ago so who knows if it has been made more difficult.

      • Peter Yates

        Step by step instructions are here :- http://www.groovypost.com/howto/security/permanently-delete-your-facebook-profile-account/
        … You’re welcome! …

  • http://www.zazzle.com/silverwear_drawer_identification_bumper_stickers-128534447804298199 Artnip

    Makes me glad I don’t have an account. I guess FB is now officially the other sub-arm of the govt. – Google being the other one.

  • http://ecbcnz.com/hireProfessionals Sam Subramanian

    All the social media facilities providers should officially be given all rights of patrolling their respective domains and report when necessary to authorities in order to keep anti-socials, sociopaths and psychopaths at bay. If users want privacy, let them use last century’s technologies such as land-line calls and postal services.

  • Chrid

    First, youd have to be a total moron if you thought facebook offered you any privacy rights at all. Just read their terms of service its all pretty clear in there. Second you would have to be even stupider to put anything in electronic writing that you would not be happy to have in the public domain, fb messages, emails, sms, whatever. All these services are easily snoopable, copyable, retransmittable. FB doesnt exist to serve you or protect your privacy. Grow up. And parents. Take responsibility for looking out for your kids yourself. Why is that even facebooks responsibilty. Should fb change diapers for you as well?

  • http://foreverelegant.com Karen Miller

    I would be skeptical in any case, but the idea of giving up more privacy to Facebook is a abhorrent. Using deep seated fears and protective instincts to justify such snooping is an age old ruse. What we know for sure is if it can be exploited and abused by Facebook, it will be!

    If Facebook is concerned about child predators, they should dedicate some of their advertising resources to educating parents. If parents are allowing their children to chat with strangers on Facebook, there is little hope that by snooping on chat conversations, Facebook will have much impact on this problem.

    • Michael

      Its like anything else. Fear mongering has not solved any issues. Parents need to take back the responsibility of parenting their kids — it may take a village to raise a child but that does not mean adults should have their privacy violated so Zuckerberg can be the Internet police.

  • Michael

    IDK, I don’t hear a lot about people luring unsuspecting kids through Facebook. I don’t think its that big a problem. If Zuckerberg was really worried about the kiddies, he would change his policy and forbid anyone under the age of 18.

  • http://www.papadanart.com Dan Fussell

    I hope it helps rid the world of a number of child predators. I have no worries since I put nothing on a computer that I would not put in the newspaper. Common sense…end of problem.

  • Leona

    I went through this once as a chat administrator and a chatter was clearly online to meet young teen boys. Facebook can monitor however, the law would have to be involved. Then they would have to prove the logs are real and not made up and a police officer would actually have to talk to the person to try to get them to say something or else it would be entrapment. At least in California that is how it was. As it ended up, the predator was a professor at Cal and he was arrested after he met a person who he thought was going to be a teen boy. The way it all played out he got off.
    We as humans think it would be a good idea to monitor however the law would say, ” You aren’t qualified to be able to tell the difference in a normal conversation or a persuasive one” Facebook would have to hire a it’s only Police because I am sure it happens daily and many many times. Police Departments would get floods of calls and would get tired of it sad to say. With the departments across the USA being cut in staff I fear they wouldn’t have the man power to do much.
    It would be nice to catch these people but there is much more involved than monitoring after they are caught.

    • Leona

      *own police. typo sorry

  • http://worksbyjjchristianblogs.wordpress.com james truett

    I have an opinion based on experiences, and it all comes down to accepting the rules. This also hopes that Facebook has the ability to ‘see’ when the truth is brought shame on. You know who I mean, whether it be pedophile or Big Brother, I can only hope that you don’t choose a side but let the truth win out.

    Pedophiles effect the lives of children; I was in an accident when I was 14 and had to have surgery. When I was in recovery I awoke to being fondled by a woman nurse.

    Later in the year I’d be seen crying in class. Since leaving school in that Iowa’n town and living my changed life it took me 41 and 1/2 years to find my freedom from that molestation.

    Before…a regular Ritchie Cunningham of “Happy Days” kind of life; A-plus grades in speech class, on the track team, swim team, football team but failing english.

    After…school drop out, state hospital, after state hospital, then prison after prison for what? For over 25 years!

    Studies say a woman often turns to prostitution after being molested.
    I became an exhibitionist.

    Yet I am now free from that past as I have been healed by Jesus and His Word of Truth.

    I am now going to heaven and will know God in Jesus, and Jesus as my Lord and savior.

    And I wonder would I have found my answer to my miserable life “IF” I hadn’t been molested by that nurse?

    I know that a pedophile is no different than a bank robber in Gods eyes, but life is crueler.

    Yet when life goes bad it can go bad in anyone. So let’s watch over each other and personally make our life worth living pain free from our deceitful desires for the pleasures, worries and/or riches of this life.

    But if you must watch, watch until you are 100% certain. Then be glad it’s not you that is so burdened. Be it alcohol, drugs, or whatever….

    In the west it was we were free from the past and judged by the present. I pray ALL SIN BE BANISHED! Until it does I don’t care who listens in on me, as long as they have the christian understanding of the truth.

    • http://tiny.cc/52g9iw Art

      All the power to you James and may Jesus keep you close to his heart.

  • http://www.getaloantoday.co.uk Sloansie

    I always assumed it happened anyway. IMO anything that helps catch these evil predators is OK

  • http://www.iamscottnash.com/ Lisa Simpkins

    Yes,I think they should along with designated law enforcement.I think most people agree that safe communications is the point here and protecting our children.If you are on Facebook for criminal activity then you should be busted.If you need privacy to chat with someone then call them on the phone and don’t chat on FB.

  • Kate Lennon

    Private conversations should be just that – private.
    This whole surveillance thing has become ridiculous.
    And it’s always justified with rare and extreme cases (like a child being saved from the clutches of a pedophile), when in fact these cases are only the tip of the iceberg (and the thin end of the wedge).
    Anyone who believes that the listeners are ONLY interested in catching pedophiles and terrorists is naive indeed. They’re obviously collecting all kinds of information about people – medical details, financial info, political affiliations, relationships, who knows? And, as always with this kind of surveillance, we have no way of finding out what information is being collected about us, or by whom, or how it is being used, or who has access to it etc. It is completely one-sided, and there is absolutely no accountability.

    The fact that “private” methods of communication can be used by pedophiles and other criminals does not justify monitoring ALL “private” exchanges.

    “Those who would trade in their freedom for their protection deserve neither, and will lose both.” – Benjamin Franklin

  • http://thecomputergal.com Nora McDougall-Collins

    This whole idea is a hoot! Let’s say that same man goes to the mall and solicits sex with the teens who are cruising there. And, the security guard or cameras point him out. Can that man claims that his conversations with my niece or other 13 year olds is “private.” Once you are online, you are in a public place, even if you are sitting at your own desk.

  • http://tiny.cc/52g9iw Art

    I’m not sure this was Facebooks doing but there is a petition to monitor more closely profiles that are fishy.
    Some of the links from that are here:
    SOURCE: http://www.globaltvbc.com/convicted+child+lurer+jeffrey+goddard+has+nearly+300+facebook+friends+despite+social-media+ban/6442697111/story.html

    ANOTHER ARTICLE WITH A DIFFERENT PICTURE: http://www.abbynews.com/news/166147786.html

    LINK TO HIS FACEBOOK PROFILE: https://www.facebook.com/martin.stewart.585

  • http://spyimplants.webs.com don muntean

    Nothing online is private – who doesn’t get that? If it’s a bot that looks for key words – then fine – if it’s not a ‘defective’ human with an ideologically fueled program. It seems that more and more there will be abuses of such a surveillance system, what happens when we can no longer trust these spies? Our world is changing and the trust we used to have is eroded away – technological advancements have seriously outpaced the advancements of human morality. Over ten years ago I was covertly enrolled into a socialist surveillance program: still under their thumb…

  • http://evrn.net/ Howard Crane

    Facebook can be a disgrace to Humanity if they want, I just wont do business with them any longer.

    Some lines you don’t cross.

  • Pasternak

    Facebook ABSOLUTELY did the right thing. YES- Facebook is a PUBLIC laundry of ideas and exchanges of communication. But to exploit available intelligence when a crime is being committed does NOT infringe on inalienable rights, because no one has the ‘inalienable right’ to commit a crime. On the other hand, the child had an inalienable right to be protected. Were it THEIR child being so enticed, one would actually HOPE these objectors, were they parents, would prefer Facebook to intervene and SAVE their child. I’m a veteran, a Constitutional Libertarian – but not a fool.

    • http://www.socialbakers.com/blog Michal

      I agree

  • http://resellercliff.blogspot.com CliffatGoodlandLLC

    Remember the Constitution of the United States of America People.
    Let our Law Enforcement Handle it.They are watching.

  • Yoanna

    No brainer !!!! So what they can see your chats????? Do u have anything to hide ???? I don’t care… as long as they catch bad guys… Especially pedofiles!!!!!!!

  • bubba

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    - Benjamin Franklin

    I agree that catching bad folk is a Fantastic… but In the US, we have the Constitution. And if we cant protect that, it wont protect us. I partially blame the parents for not having the due diligence to monitor their 13 year old daughters internet activity. My kids can have their privacy when they move out, until then, it’s my job and responsibility to protect them from predators like this, not yours or Facebooks.

    If Facebook wants to monitor private chats, they must work in hand with Law Enforcement and in doing so, Must obtain a Warrant.

    Fourth Amendment
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    • Patriot58

      Bubba, Ben Franklin was correct. However, he was speaking regarding the government, and not a private transaction.

      As a Facebook user, you are under a contract with Facebook, a corporation. The contract is that, as a user receiving access to their web servers and software, at no charge, they have the right to access and monitor any information you should reveal through their product. In some cases it may be used for marketing, and in others it may be for the protection of their members.

      You have no 4th amendment rights with Facebook, because they aren’t entering your home or prying into your life. You’re providing them with the information. You agree to this when you create an account.

  • dr

    If you are using Facebook, you are using THEIR property. Facebook has a right to do whatever they want with it. If you don’t like it, don’t use facebook.

    Does it seem like ‘big brother’ is watching? Yes it does! But Facebook is acting in a responsible manner to make sure that their service is not being used for illegal, and harmful purposes.

    As a parent of 2 teenagers, I feel a little better knowing that Facebook can monitor chats like this!

  • http://www.epublicitypr.com Taylor Mitchell

    This is interesting! thanks for sharing!

  • Yokashima

    They (facebook) are already monitoring chats and I for one, welcome it, because I am confident of the hands that deal with it. Because I think America has the best constitution in the world. It has protection for lawful free speech and people who understand the spirit of it. What is cause for worry is that this kind of thing should be done under cover and not publicized because then, foreign governments (who dont understand the basic principles of free speech or human rights) will also start demanding access to facebook chats etc. THAT should not be allowed to happen. Everything is safe as long as it is in American hands.

  • http://doublethickcoat.net Joshc

    Go Facebook!! If you are doing nothing wrong what have you got to worry about. Sure privacy is affected, but catching child predators far outweighs the right to privacy. Go get em Facebook!!!!

  • Allister

    No problem here.

    We’re using facebook’s resources (and for free) to engage in social networking. If the folks at facebook willingly allowed members to engage in illegal activity with the aid of facebook’s systems, THAT would be cause for concern.

    Go facebook! The constitution should not be expected to protect the privacy of acts which are unlawful, and was never intended to provide such protection.

  • http://damescribe.hubpages.com/ Gin

    I have to give a nod of approval to Facebook. I think it’s fantastic that monitoring of some sort is active. There are ‘high risk’ children out there that have no concept about ‘predators’. I would go a step further and just forward ‘suspicious conversations’ immediately to the police if it would help to stop contact altogether.

  • http://www.toogroagency.com toogroread

    going on the internet is like going to the grocery store and talking on your cell phone. PUBLIC. We all owe each other the curtesy to not use foul language or private sex talk in public places.
    YOUR FREEDOM ENDS WHERE MY NOSE BEGINS. think about it.

  • Donna

    Willing to give up privacy for protection – people who want their privacy are often the ones who want to hide their activities….if not doing anything wrong, shouldn’t be a problem.

    • http://facebook Jazzy Jazz

      In my opinion I think Facebook should monitor for child predators and for that matter should work with law enforcement to capture criminals!!! And if facebook is successful why not pay them with the reward that they would pay citizens for capture and apprehension of Criminals especially the high profile ones like the ones that are on the FBI’s top ten list!!

  • http://www.bobslinks.com Bob

    This is a tough one, catching those sick people is fantastic, but losing freedom however cannot be tolerated.

    I think currently their is a happy medium – You are fairly secure on facebook but having automated systems to catch pedo’s is a great idea, i say roll with it!

  • Kate Lennon

    Those here who think that Facebook are doing the right thing (in monitoring “private” chats) because this led to a pedophile being identified are completely missing the point,

    Of course you can catch pedophiles – and terrorists, and bank robbers, and drug traffickers etc – if you monitor every move every person in the country makes.

    If the “authorities” (since when did facebook become the authorities, by the way?) were to open every letter, listen in on every phone call, plant bugs and hidden cameras in every home, there would be no crime at all!

    However, there would be no privacy at all, either.

    As for the people who say: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” – get a life! I’m not a criminal, but there are plenty of things in my life that I would prefer to keep to myself. Everyone has things they’d prefer to keep private. If they don’t, they need to get out more.

    Knowledge is power. If you ever find yourself up against “authorities” of any kind who have access to information about you (which, by the way, that you yourself don’t have access to), you’ll discover how intimidating and coercive this can be.

    To give an obvious example, does anyone really believe that the police would treat you the same if they knew you had no money in the bank and therefore couldn’t afford a good lawyer?

    There are all kinds of private and personal things that are not in any way criminal, but which, in the wrong hands – or even in the hands of the police – could be used to intimidate you.

    You might be a woman who, as a teenager, gave up a child for adoption, and would prefer to keep this a secret. Or you may have had an abortion that you didn’t tell anyone about. Or, if you are a man, you may have fathered a child that no one in your family knows about. Or you may have a criminal record for something you did years ago. Or maybe you had a face lift or a nose job that you would rather nobody knew about.

    And then there are the various lists being compiled by police departments, the FBI, the CIA and others, based on information about people obtained surreptitiously. You don’t have to commit any crime to get on one of these lists, you merely have to express a political view in some monitored forum, which is interpreted by someone, somewhere, as “suspicious”. The “no fly” list is an obvious example, but there are many others, and being on them can affect anything from your credit rating to your work prospects.

    The idea that every facet of our private lives should be open to scrutiny by faceless and nameless authorities, who are free to use that information in any way they wish, is appalling, in my opinion.

    • Perry Brumbaugh

      I am all for it. If there are plenty of things in your life that I would prefer to keep to private, DON’T post on those things on the internet or in chat. If its that private and that important, send an email. Chats are for saying hi and catching up. No different than running into someone in public.
      I completely understand about privacy and the concern about giving too much authority to agencies, but today, technology is everywhere and parents are not able to keep up with it all.
      It’s nice to know that Facebook, with the unprecedented access that they do have, are willing to take the extra measures, not making users pay for it, by the way, to help protect the kids that are being targeted on Facebook. They aren’t reading all messages anyways. Just the ones that are flagged by the system. Keep it rolling Facebook. I’ve got your back!!!!

  • http://socialmediahomebusiness.com Mili Ponce

    Although in this case the monitoring of a chat between 2 individuals has led to the capture and arrest of a sexual predator; in most cases, I think such an invasion of privacy is unnacceptable.
    It is my understanding that Facebook prioritises chats between people with few connections, but until there is a decent, proper explanation of exactly how they search through chats, I don’t think I’m a big fan. I’ll be keeping my talking to loved ones and friends via email.

  • http://www.internetscamsanonymous.com Dr Don Yates Sr PhD

    Not in favor. Parenting and education starts in the home. I am not in favor of abdicating my responsibility for my children. We monitor all online activities, type of games, connections and conversations.

  • Simon

    The whole of the content on Facebook/Twitter/etc. is saved in privately owned “space”. The user-agreement, that has obviously read before setting up ones account, probably gives your consent for Facebook/Twitter/etc. to monitor everything you do on their network end then stop, report, or prevent any activity that is illegal, or that they consider un-cool according to that agreement.

    Get over it… these site probably tell you that they monitor traffic in the user agreements. They might not even have any choice, some law might require them to monitor the traffic.

  • http://www.stingraysocial.com David Foertsch

    Came back to this article today after reading last week. The school shooting that occurred yesterday just minutes from where I’m sitting has me thinking again about this surveillance issue. According to this Mashable article http://mashable.com/2012/08/28/teen-charged-in-baltimore-high-school-shooting/ the eventual shooter typed this message
    “First day of school, last day of my life. t(~_~t), fuck the world.”

    Could a more developed surveillance system built on top of Facebook have flagged this post for examination?

  • Mark

    Are there any instructions to delete my Facebook account for good over there? They say they don’t delete your Facebook account unless you follow some steps I can’t find anywhere. I’ve had enough of Facebook. It is just a privacy nightmare.

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