FACEBOOK HAS ADMITTED that it's scanning users' Messenger conversations in a bid to ensure that 'private' conversations abide by the company's guidelines.
The revelation, which comes as the social network said that Cambridge Analytica may have had data on up to 87 million Facebook users, was first made by Mark Zuckerberg during an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein.
During the interview, Zuck mentioned an incident during which he received a phone call from a fellow Facebook staffer to inform him that the company's systems had blocked attempts to send Messenger messages about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.
According to Zuckerberg, the messages were detected by Facebook systems and blocked.
"In that case, our systems detect what's going on. We stop those messages from going through," Zuck said, nonchalantly.
The villainous company went on to tell Bloomberg that while Messenger conversations are supposedly 'private', Facebook scans them in the same way it does with public posts in order to prevent abuse and ensure all content - 'private' or not - abides by the company's stringent "community standards".
Users can also report messages for violating those standards, Facebook noted, which would prompt a review by the company's "community operation" team or the firm's similarly-skilled automated tools.
"For example, 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," a Facebook spokesperson said.
"Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behaviour on our platform."
Although unlikely to convince already-irked Facebookers to continue using Messenger, the company added it doesn't analyse chats to gather data that it can sell to advertisers.
However, one Twitter user said in response to the news: "So I was messaging my wife about dinner tonight mentioned a particular place on Facebook Messenger and then opened up Facebook about to see an ad for that restaurant."
Another Twitter user also seemed unconvinced, saying: "I talked about ice cream in a Facebook Messenger chat and now see an ad on Twitter for ice cream. Our privacy has been invaded for years already and used to sell products." µ
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