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Last year, after noticing minors using its service, Skout put together a separate service for 13- to 17-year-olds with safety features such as parental controls.
In addition, Skout devoted a quarter of its staff to monitoring activity to flag nudity, and to check chats for inappropriate sexual messages, profanity, spamming, copyright infringement and violent behavior.
Law enforcement is hailing Facebook for using its little-known data monitoring technology to spot a suspicious conversation about sex between a man in his early thirties and a 13-year-old girl from Florida.
According to Reuters, Facebook software on March 9 raised the red flag when it picked up on a conversation about sex between the man and the girl.
Duncan estimates that for every predator the police intercept due to tips from Facebook and other companies, another ten get through the system undetected.
And while Facebook limits how visible children are to its adult users – minors don’t show up in public searches, only friends can chat with them, and only friends’ friends can send them messages – children are all too capable of lying about their age and pretending to be adults.
In what Reuters called the company’s “most expansive comments on the subject to date”, Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said that the monitoring software analyzes relationships to find suspicious conversations between unlikely pairings, i.e., between people of widely varying ages who only have loose and/or newly formed relationships, for example.
The technology also relies on archives of real-life chats that preceded sexual assaults, Sullivan told Reuters.
Reuters pointed to one such provider, Aristotle International Inc., which offers methods such as having a parent vouch for a child with a token credit card payment. The downsides of such technology: it bleeds away sites’ profits because it costs money, and it drives away children who crave unfettered freedom of communication.
What’s key to remember about this policy, a Facebook spokesperson tells is that Groups and Pages should be spared from censorship, so long as there aren’t narcs in the group.
Content needs to be reported before it’s taken down or reviewed, a spokesperson says.
It’s crucial to somehow get through to them that those sanctuaries can be smoke and mirrors, and that those supposed peers can all too easily be dangerous predators.
A recent update to Facebook’s Community Guidelines worried some users that the company was placing strict new limits on discussing sex and sexual orientation — but Facebook says users have little reason to worry.
The conversation was automatically flagged for Facebook employees, who read it and quickly notified the police.