Facebook analyzes relationships and chats to flag up sexual predators

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Facebook automatically scans posts and chat logs for criminal
activity, using big data processing techniques similar to those used in
targeting advertising to determine the most vulnerable users, according
to a new Reuters report
that explores combating pedophilia in social media. The social
network’s scanning tools use factors such as mutual friends, past
interaction, distance and age difference — alongside simple phrase
searches — to flag potentially nefarious conversations for human
moderators. They also rely on archives of previous conversations that
are known to have led to sexual assaults, identifying patterns and
searching for similar ones.

Apparently keen to pre-empt the sorts of privacy concerns that have
dogged Facebook in recent months, Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan
tells Reuters that “it’s really important that we use technology
that has a very low false-positive rate.” He explains that “[w]e’ve
never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at
private communications,” stressing that the company’s systems attempt
to avoid flagging up long-standing personal relationships. A lot of the
activity that Facebook refers to law enforcement is identified through
its user reporting system, detailed in a recent infographic.

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