If you thought that funny but slightly cringe-worthy video you sent in a private Facebook group chat was private, you might want to rethink that decision. According to Daily Mail, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that the private messages we send via Facebook messenger may not be as private as we thought.
But it says so in the title! They call it private messaging! What do you mean it's not completely private?
While some are calling this the "lastest blow to the scandal" surrounding Facebook, it makes a small amount of sense. Facebook actively monitors what we post to ensure that the community standards are upheld. This, unfortunately, extends to the private messages we send.
During an interview with Vox editor Ezra Klein, Zuckerberg confirmed that Facebook really does screen our messages. He cited an instance where he was notified of "inflammaroty Messenger instant messages about ethnic cleansing in Maynmar."
"In that case," he confessed, "our systems detect what's going on. We stop the messages from going through."
Users have a right to be concerned. If Facebook company agents can see these messages, what else can they see? According to Bloomberg, Facebook does not use these private messages to tailor advertising, but instead "uses the same tools to prevent abuse in messages that are in place across Facebook as a whole."
Facebook users can also manually flag specific messages or comments, which will then prompt an operations agent to manually review the flagged content, or for the automated system to decide.
In a statement to MailOne, a Facebook Messenger spokesperson was quick to assure users that "keeping your messages private is the priority" and that they only use "automated systems that detect things like known images of child exploitation and malware. This is not done by humans."
"We do not listen to your voice and video calls."
This is little comfort considering the recent Trump-affiliated consulting firm that data-mined millions of Facebook users, or the Android users who had years of data collected via Facebook apps.
To combat the growing stigma and ease general concern, Facebook has said it will make privacy settings easier to find by "introducing a new privacy shortcuts menu" as well as making it easier for users to download and delete their profile data.
While we are not entirely convinced, this could be a step in the right direction.