Is Facebook Watching You??

Blog, Tech

Big Brother is Watching You!!! This is the phrase constantly and consistently imparted upon the residents of Oceania in George Orwells stellar novel 1984. Oceania’s population are under complete control by a totalitarian government headed by a dictator known as Big Brother. These people are made to toe the line due to the ever present surveillance and fear based propaganda that makes up their daily lives. Anyone going against the system is removed from it never to be heard from again. Quoted from Wikipedia:” The term Big Brother entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance. “

I recently came across an article at Mashable in their Social Media section. In it the author talks about how Facebook uses software to scan chats looking for keywords that would indicate potential possibility of criminal intent. Facebook has provided information to police before as can be seen at this link:( There is a lot about all of this that is still vague, unspecified and unknown but as long as you’re not planning a big heist over Facebook Chat or any number of other malicious or scandalous acts you probably will not end up as a blip on their radar. Regardless though the fear has been placed and the line drawn for you to toe.

Below is the article by Alex Fitzpatrick at All credit goes to him and the site and anything else here was just a small aside on my part.

Facebook and other social platforms are watching users’ chats for criminal activity and notifying police if any suspicious behavior is detected, according to a report.

The screening process begins with scanning software that monitors chats for words or phrases that signal something might be amiss, such as an exchange of personal information or vulgar language.

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators.

If the scanning software flags a suspicious chat exchange, it notifies Facebook security employees, who can then determine if police should be notified.

Keeping most of the scanned chats out of the eyes of Facebook employees may help Facebook deflect criticism from privacy advocates, but whether the scanned chats are deleted or stored permanently is yet unknown.

The new details about Facebook’s monitoring system came from an interview which the company’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan gave to Reuters. At least one alleged child predator has been brought to trial directly as a result of Facebook’s chat scanning, according to Reuters’ report.

When asked for a comment, Facebook only repeated the remarks given by Sullivan to Reuters: “We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate.”

Facebook works with law enforcement “where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook,” according to a page on its site.

“We may disclose information pursuant to subpoenas, court orders, or other requests (including criminal and civil matters) if we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law. This may include respecting requests from jurisdictions outside of the United States where we have a good faith belief that the response is required by law under the local laws in that jurisdiction, apply to users from that jurisdiction, and are consistent with generally accepted international standards.

“We may also share information when we have a good faith belief it is necessary to prevent fraud or other illegal activity, to prevent imminent bodily harm, or to protect ourselves and you from people violating our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. This may include sharing information with other companies, lawyers, courts or other government entities.”

Indeed, Facebook has cooperated with police investigations in the past. In April, it complied with a police subpoena from the Boston Police Department by sending printouts of wall posts, photos and login/IP data of a murder suspect.


Below is a link to 1984 by George Orwell. If you have not read it yet do yourself a favor and get a copy:

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