Facebook users have been growing concerned about their privacy after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a data firm funded by right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, used the personal information of over 87 million users to help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
“I’m quite confident given our analysis it is not more than 87 [million]. It very well could be less. But we wanted to put out the maximum we felt that it could be as soon as we had that analysis done,” Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg told CNN.
In a recent interview with Vox’s Ezra Klein, Zuckerberg admitted the social media giant also monitors conversations on its Facebook Messenger app. Messenger interactions are scanned with the same automated tools it uses to police the public portion of the social network.
According to a Facebook Messenger spokesperson, the automated tools are designed to stop abusive behavior. According to their statement: “on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses.”
In his Vox interview, Zuckerberg said the tools helped to prevent warring Muslim and Buddhist factions in Myanmar from communicating through the app. He said the messages were “basically telling the Muslims, ‘Hey, there’s about to be an uprising of the Buddhists, so make sure that you are armed and go to this place.’ And then the same thing on the other side.”
While Facebook says its Messenger conversations aren’t monitored by humans, users should be cautious about what they share on the app. With data breaches of financial institutions, eCommerce sites, and social media platforms becoming commonplace, it’s best to assume that nothing done on the internet is private.
Share images by Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr and Anthony Quintano/Flickr.