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Facebook scans media and links shared on Messenger; reads content when flagged


Social media giant Facebook scans users’ privately shared links and media on its Messenger App, a report has found. Apart from this, its moderators also read flagged messages, to check if they comply with its rules. They are taken down if they don’t. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said while talking about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, in an interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, “In that case, our systems detect what’s going on.” “We stop those messages from going through,” he added.

Mark told Klein that Facebook had detected people trying to send sensational messages through the Messenger app.

Further, the company also told Bloomberg that Messenger scans with the same tools that are used across its larger platform to prevent abuse and to ensure that content abides by “community standards”. It said it scans media using photo matching technology to search for known child exploitation imagery and it scans links to check it for malware or viruses. Facebook maintained that they are not scanning messages for the purpose of targeted advertising or other purposes.

Users reacted on Twitter

Facebook also owns messenger service WhatsApp, which has end-to-end encryption, so only the sender and receiver/s can read what is shared. Messenger also has an option to encrypt messages ut it is not the default mode, instead it has to be turned on by the user.

Facebook also updated its terms of service and data policy to include its other platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp. “We also make clear that Facebook is the corporate entity that provides the Messenger and Instagram services, which now all use the same data policy. Your experience isn’t changing with any of these products,” the company said.

This revelation comes when data of nearly 87 million Facebook users was improperly accessed by with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. In a response to this, Zuckerberg said in a recent press conference, “We didn’t take a broad enough view on what our responsibility was and that was a huge mistake. That was my mistake.”

The company’s CTO Schroepfer also announced some sweeping changes in the way third-party developers interact with Facebook via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), the software layer through which third parties can interact with and extract data from the platform.

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