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Facebook Scans Chats and Posts For Criminal Activity

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the gonna-find-out-who's-naughty-and-nice dept.

Facebook 483

An anonymous reader writes "Facebook has added sleuthing to its array of data-mining capabilities, scanning your posts and chats for criminal activity. If the social-networking giant detects suspicious behavior, it flags the content and determines if further steps, such as informing the police, are required. Reuters provides an example of how the software was used in March: 'A man in his early 30s was chatting about sex with a 13-year-old South Florida girl and planned to meet her after middle-school classes the next day. Facebook's extensive but little-discussed technology for scanning postings and chats for criminal activity automatically flagged the conversation for employees, who read it and quickly called police. Officers took control of the teenager's computer and arrested the man the next day.'"

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483 comments

nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637759)

And it is not just an ambiguous SSN, we are way ahead of fiction.

Facebook is a public place (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637767)

Why is it so weird that they're doing this? If you went into a bar and talked to folks about having sex with the underage, and someone overheard you, there's a chance that you'd get your ass handed to you, as well as have the cops called to take you away. What's different about facebook doing it? And who the hell relinquishes such personal, and incriminating information on a public server? I know it's not a public server, but it works just like a public bar that's privately owned.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40637805)

Most peoples' facebook is locked down to not be publicly viewable, nor is there an expectation that a private chat between two people is "public". That's the same type of logic that made wiretapping of anybody by anybody legal - You're broadcasting your conversation over telephone lines that are public - which is why Congress had to specifically make it illegal.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637869)

it isn't the same logic at all. Facebook isn't even a common carrier.

In this case it isn't the government eavesdropping on your conversation, it is the company that owns the means of communication looking at their own stuff and voluntarily reporting it to the government. That is a significant distinction. In this scenario you'd be free to create your own Facebook and have conversations about illegal activities and no one would find out. If it were as you claim, the government would be monitoring the service you run as well.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

DiscountBorg(TM) (1262102) | about 2 years ago | (#40637901)

'company that owns the means of communication'

So Google has the right to monitor your chats and emails?

'the government would be monitoring the service you run as well'

Without a warrant?

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

srealm (157581) | about 2 years ago | (#40637949)

If it goes through their servers - yes, they do. However the government can't obtain any such information without a warrant unless Google voluntarily gives said information up. But they could have every chat and email you send through their servers displayed on a big screen in their lunch rooms if they wanted. Legally.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Interesting)

CrzyP (830102) | about 2 years ago | (#40638089)

Yeah. Google doesn't because its bad for business. For Facebook, there may be backlash from the regular (no pedophilic) community, but dumbed down because they say this is being used to catch pedophiles and criminals and not to just randomly read up on peoples conversations. Then again, most people on Facebook don't care about privacy and like to have their thoughts seen (the Wall).

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40638151)

[pedantic] There's still the issue of data protection. In the UK any kind of personally identifying information can only be accessed by employees with a need to - if I, as a Google employee (which I'm not), decided to start reading an ex-girlfriends emails then that would almost certainly be a breach of the law, unless of course I'd been asked to for some reason (troubleshooting Gmail or whatever). [/pedantic]

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638075)

Google can and does. Your voicemail transcriptions as well, if you use that service. And what you search, and which results you follow, and which areas you map, and whatever else you do using servers and services they own. Those data are nearly their entire revenue source.

In the government's case, how does a warrant matter one way or the other? That they can do it and you've nowhere to hide is point.

Re:Facebook is a public place (3, Informative)

Shavano (2541114) | about 2 years ago | (#40638237)

Facebook can read your posts and chats. It's in their terms of service.

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Interesting)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 2 years ago | (#40637957)

Why would Facebook spend money policing it's patrons and voluntarily reporting misdeeds? They are a "for profit" company, not a social service.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

DdJ (10790) | about 2 years ago | (#40638035)

Why would Facebook spend money policing it's patrons and voluntarily reporting misdeeds? They are a "for profit" company, not a social service.

So that when legislators start asking questions about their violations of user privacy, they can point at examples like this to show how it's really "for the children" and in support of our fine laws and all that drek, maybe?

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638063)

Likely because of the problems when they get mentioned in a "13 year old met rapist on facebook" and so on. Wouldn't want parents to keep their kids of facebook, kids are great for advertisements.

Re:Facebook is a public place (3, Informative)

qbast (1265706) | about 2 years ago | (#40638085)

Because if they don't, things may become much more difficult for them. They really don't want local police or FBI pulling Megaupload on them and grabbing all their servers as evidence next time some crime is investigated.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40638171)

It saves them spending more money on lawsuits from angry parents, fighting court issued warrants, and losing advertising money from $kidsToyCompany. Spend a penny to save a pound and all that.

Re:Facebook is a public place (3)

mat.power (2677517) | about 2 years ago | (#40637879)

It isn't really about whether or not Facebook is a public place. If you give Facebook your data, they can do whatever they want with it.

Re:Facebook is a public place (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40637931)

Most people don't understand that they are giving their data to Facebook if they have marked something as "private." You can thank the dismal state of computer education in this country, which is generally on the level of, "Here is how you use MS Word, and here is how you search Google for sources in your essay!"

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

mat.power (2677517) | about 2 years ago | (#40638041)

This is true and a fair point, but if people can't be bothered to take a few minutes to understand that by using Facebook even posting things as "private" or using their "private" chat feature, they are giving up whatever they are posting to Facebook, that is there own fault and I have no sympathy for them :) Maybe this sort of thing will even help to increase people's knowledge and people will stop being dumb when using social networks.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#40638165)

But the same could be said for passing your messages over lines owned by the phone companies. Or phone messages on the open air space. Most people have cordless phones in their house (if they have landlines at all) and those are most likely trivial to listen to. I'm pretty sure your neighbour, or the cops is not allowed to listen in on those conversations. Also, the phone company is not allowed to listen to your conversations simply because they own the lines. By talking on the phone, you are giving the phone company your data. Even more so if you leave a voice mail.

Re:Facebook is a public place (2)

mat.power (2677517) | about 2 years ago | (#40638255)

The fact that current laws don't apply to more recent technologies (or not effectively at least) is not new information.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637913)

Locked down and not publicly viewable. Look dude, there are people monitoring facebook, period. What's 'locked down' about that? If you go on facebook and declare that you're going to fuck a kid, why would one of the facebook monitors not report it?

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

_Sharp'r_ (649297) | about 2 years ago | (#40638145)

Having seen Facebook's competence in other ways, I imagine that Facebook may not catch much with their monitoring process, but publicizing this story probably did more to deter pedophiles from using Facebook to make contacts than the actual monitoring process itself.

Since they're really just interested in not becoming known as a place where pedophiles can get dates and thus getting hit with say, Craigslist's reputational issues, the story that they are better at monitoring than they really are makes a lot of sense for them.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Interesting)

srealm (157581) | about 2 years ago | (#40637921)

This just reminds me of the whole 'freedom of speech' logic. I run some online fourms, and the whole 'expectation of privacy' fails the exact same way as 'freedom of speech' does. And it comes down to the fact that I, and Facebook, are not the government.

I, as a private citizen, am not required to allow freedom of speech on my privately run forums. And while in generally, I allow people to say what they wish, there are certain discussions my moderators are going to shut down immediately. And I can do this because freedom of speech only guarantees that the GOVERNMENT can't stop you from saying something, not another individual if you happen to be saying it on their servers.

Similarly, the whole expectation of privacy is a government thing. There are indeed certain places that the government can't just gather whatever information it wants about you or spy on you without a court order (or at least can't use any information they gather in court), because you have an expectation of privacy. Private citizens however have no such restriction (except of course if they break another law to gather such information, like breaking into your house). Which means that if you voluntarily use THEIR servers to chat, you have NO expectation of privacy from them, as they are NOT a government either. This is completely besides the fact you agreed to their terms of service for the opportunity to use their servers in the first place. Which I'm sure contains some language about them being able to see and use any and all communications you put on their servers.

Why do people not understand that many of the freedoms in this country, are freedoms that protect us from our government ONLY, not each other?

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40638011)

By your logic, my cell phone carrier should listen to every word of every spoken conversation I have, censor phone calls they disagree with, and report me to the police for anything criminal they find. After all, I could choose another carrier. They aren't the government.

What you creeping authoritarians don't understand is that when technology changes, it shouldn't result in an erosion by freedom, and hiding behind "constitution only protects us from the government"is douchey.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

mmelson (441923) | about 2 years ago | (#40638117)

Not "should", but "could"... except that doing so was explicitly made illegal, so that's not a fair analogy.

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40638257)

Of course it's a completely fair analogy. The law doesn't change what the situation is: A conversation between 2 people in a medium that is not thought to be exposed to any other people.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638149)

Not should, could.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

LittleImp (1020687) | about 2 years ago | (#40638189)

You probably did not intend it that way, but it actually makes sense. Obviously they can censor phone calls they don't agree with, why not? I think it would be good if people stopped lying to themselves and just accepted the fact that not everything is private. They can and will sell you out if only the smallest amount of pressure is put on them. The sooner you realize the better. No legislation in the world will ever change that.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40638269)

Please indicate proof to me where an american's phone calls (text messages do not count) have been censored because a phone company listened to what they said and didn't like it.

Re:Facebook is a public place (2, Insightful)

gstrickler (920733) | about 2 years ago | (#40638227)

No, that's an invalid extrapolation. In the case of the phone, it's you talking to one, or perhaps a few other people in real time. No one who isn't there by invitation of one of the parties can hear the conversation (without a wiretap). In his forum, many people are there who weren't invited by the party making the post, and people can read that post days, weeks, or years later, out of context because it's not the same type of real-time interactive communication as a phone call.

The GP is correct. If it's my forum (e.g. my FB page or my blog), I have final say over what is visible to others. It's my soapbox, if you want to say something I won't allow, go get your own soapbox. Here is how I have expressed this in a post on FB:

I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. However, your right to say it does not guarantee that anyone will listen or hear you. You do not have a right to a soapbox from which to say it, and I will not provide one for you. You have no right to use any soapbox that I control to express your beliefs and opinions.

If I deny you access to my soapbox (e.g. delete your comments), I am not suppressing your right to free speech, I'm exercising mine.

Understand the difference? If not, I'll be happy to remove or block you and save us both any irritation.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638131)

Anybody who acts as an agent of the government, whether public or private, should be forced to follow the constitution. If this is costing Facebook money, you can bet they're not doing this voluntarily.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637943)

What more do you think Facebook has to do to make it obvious that it isn't 'most peoples' facebook', it is 'facebook's facebook'?

They changed emails without asking.
They change the page layout without asking.
They record everything you do when at the site and use those data to display specific advertisements.
They delete profiles without asking.
They delete contact data from your phone without asking.
They don't remove profile data, when asked.
They change privacy settings without asking.
They change their privacy policy without asking.

At this point if you are a Facebook user and you believe your activities there aren't exposed to a 3rd party (Facebook itself), you are unfathomably thick headed. Just like with all of the other web based / cloud based storage: the people who own those servers own your stuff. No amount of legal or PR mumbo jumbo changes that. At the top of your comments page here: "The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them.", is an absolute demonstrable lie and anyone who believes they 'own' their comments in this page is delusional.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 2 years ago | (#40638059)

In many jurisdictions, the presence of a third party makes a conversation public, rather than private, unless the two parties had a reasonable expectation of privacy. For most Facebook posts (particularly excluding one-recipient messages), all of the "friends" of the poster (and potentially all of the friends of the recipient) are parties to the post. Most users are also aware there is no expectation of privacy (after all, they comment on others' posts). So they certainly could be considered "public" in the sense of "not protected" even if they are not "public" in the sense of "viewable by anyone on the internet".

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40638211)

This article is about facebook CHAT. Facebook chat is between 2 people. You are not talking about what this article is talking about, but something completely different. Try again.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40638125)

Facebook themselves don't count as "public", however, they can view everything. As can companies who pay for data and anyone who can convince a user to authorise an app.

There's two issues here: Facebook employees using common sense and passing on useful data about bad guys to the authorities (good) and Facebook's algorithms automatically reporting people who are entirely innocent (bad). Hopefully they're using a Mk 1 Eyeball and some common sense with this, I can forsee plenty of problems if they let software think of the children too much.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 2 years ago | (#40638235)

So by the same logic, my phone company should eavesdrop on my calls and report anything suspicious, right?

Re:Facebook is a public place (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637827)

Your analogy isn't a valid. In a chat application, there is an expectation of privacy because the members of the chat are explicitly listed as parties to the chat - your chat partner and yourself. if someone else was a party to the chat, you'd expect to see their name listed in the chat box somewhere.

In a bar, you don't expect the same level of privacy because you know there are people around you.

Re:Facebook is a public place (-1, Troll)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40637891)

If you really are dumb enough to groom a child over a fucking chat application, you deserve the prison rape coming your way. Ever seen 'To Catch a Predator'?

I know the libertards will jump on me for this, but there is a burden of care on the hosts of chat servers given their patchy history as hotbeds for paedophiles, terrorists and all manner of unsavoury communications. Arguing otherwise is just the inane ramblings of somebody subscribing to the ridiculous extents of an ideology, rather than it's well-reasoned core

And before anybody goes there, it's fuck all like wire tapping. For starters, it isn't the 1960s.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about 2 years ago | (#40637951)

It seems it isn't even the 19th century yet where you are.

Let me introduce you to a hot little concept from 1789:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Re:Facebook is a public place (4, Insightful)

jeremyp (130771) | about 2 years ago | (#40638195)

You'll have to explain the relevance of that to me. The Congress referred to is the US legislature, is it not? Can you explain Facebook's affiliation to Congress? How has anybody's right to free speech been abridged by Facebook monitoring the said speech and reporting evidence of wrongdoing to the authorities?

I honestly don't know why anybody has any expectation of privacy on the Facebook site. It's a corporation whose only obligation is to its stockholders. It only has a privacy policy at all insofar as not having one will drive some people away from its site which will decrease its value in the eyes of its customers (the advertisers).

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40638247)

At what point in this entire discussion have Congress passed a law relating to this in any way? Nobody has been censored, quite the opposite, their "free speech" has been spread further and wider than they wanted. If anybody in this should be in favour of censorship it's the idiot who decided to chat up a 13yr old in public, it would have saved him a whole bunch of hassle.

I wish people would stop using "free speech" as a synonym for "shut up, I can do what I want".

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638025)

I was going to give you a rational and well-reasoned reply, but after I finished reading your post, I realized that you're not interested in having a mature discussion since you paint anyone who disagrees with you as someone with "inane ramblings". You're just another knee-jerk authoritarian fucktard who deserves nothing but scorn for not having the basic respect for our freedoms that our founders didd.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Theophany (2519296) | about 2 years ago | (#40638243)

Dude, if you're really that behind the curve on privacy and Facebook, you couldn't have had a rational and well-reasoned reply, period.

Unless you've been hoarding them under the rock you've been living under since 2007.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638271)

He wasn't arguing with you about Facebook specifically, dolt. He was arguing with you about whether or not "hosts of chat servers" have some kind of "burden of care".

Moron.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637935)

The problem is you're trying to apply common sense to that which is wrapped up in shitton of legalese to the effect of "We own everything passing through our site". When did you last read FB's ToS and privacy policy?

Subjective expectation of privacy is not the same as legal. You did agree to share everything with a site and you did click "I read and accept the terms and conditions". Unless lawmakers make this kind of clauses illegal, you're SoL.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637915)

Why is it so weird that they're doing this? If you went into a bar and talked to folks about having sex with the underage, and someone overheard you, there's a chance that you'd get your ass handed to you, as well as have the cops called to take you away. What's different about facebook doing it? And who the hell relinquishes such personal, and incriminating information on a public server? I know it's not a public server, but it works just like a public bar that's privately owned.

Remember this next time you chat to someone about how you got "so wasted" the other night at the bar and the cops show up an hour later to interrogate you on DUI suspicions.

Remember this the next time your 16-year son is simply chatting to someone about smoking pot, and next thing you know you are being served with a search warrant on your home, ransacking your house.

Not all cases of the police surveillance state are as blatantly obvious as a pedophile case. Use your head and understand exactly how this can (and likely will) be abused.

Re:Facebook is a public place (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637923)

Replace "Facebook" with "Verizon" or "AT&T" and see if your logic makes any sense.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0, Troll)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#40637947)

Why is it so weird that they're doing this? If you went into a bar and talked to folks about having sex with the underage, and someone overheard you, there's a chance that you'd get your ass handed to you, as well as have the cops called to take you away. What's different about facebook doing it? And who the hell relinquishes such personal, and incriminating information on a public server? I know it's not a public server, but it works just like a public bar that's privately owned.

Damn, you are stupid, no wonder you posted as an anonymous coward.

You are in a bar, and talking about the underage girl you bang, guess what? Nothing is going to happen. Why? Because you are in a bar, you are probably drunk and others are drunk around you. You hear a lot of claims in a bar and guess what? Most of them are bullshit.

I used to fuck underage girls when I was over 18, you going to get me arrested? Good luck with that.

It's my personal opinion that facebook is going too far. Not only do they mine data about you to sell for money, they now are going to be monitor what you say?

Where does it stop?

Think of the children.

Think of the terrorist.

Fuck that, fuck facebook.

Re:Facebook is a public place (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638049)

I like this quote:
"I used to fuck underage girls when I was over 18, you going to get me arrested? Good luck with that."

I may be stupid, but not as stupid as someone that says, "when I was over 18". What, are you 17 now, shithead?

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40637963)

who the hell relinquishes such personal, and incriminating information on a public server?

People who do not understand that they are doing such a thing. Most people think that if they set something as "private" on Facebook, then it is actually private. They do not understand how a website works, or what is actually happening when they use Facebook chat, etc.

Re:Facebook is a public place (5, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | about 2 years ago | (#40638005)

The main difference is the bar doesn't go out of it's way to implement technology to eavesdrop on its patrons. Seems like an awful business model for a bar (unless they are bounty hunters in disguise).

A patron overhearing you in a bar is not the same thing as somebody who works for the bar actively listening for criminal activity. The random person at the bar hearing your criminal activity is the same thing as the "report photo/story" feature in Facebook, which seems to be ok with most of us, but Facebook admins (or bots) crawling through chats isn't.

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

ToadProphet (1148333) | about 2 years ago | (#40638077)

If you went into a bar and talked to folks about having sex with the underage, and someone overheard you, there's a chance that you'd get your ass handed to you, as well as have the cops called to take you away. What's different about facebook doing it?

Ugh, no, and I really wish we'd stop using this analogy as it fails to take into consideration the differences between communications IRL and electronically.

IRL is generally transient and has context, both subtle and overt. One can change the meaning easily with subtle body language or other environmental factors. And a listener doesn't have access to reams of data which can be strewn together, without context, to create a profile of the communicator.

If you haven't said something in a public place that could be misconstrued out of context as having criminal intent then your likely a pretty damn dull individual.

Facebook is NOT a public place (1)

anared (2599669) | about 2 years ago | (#40638123)

So youve probably heard about this thing called legislation... According to the law, Facebook is NOT a public space, the end. It is not a public space.

Re:Facebook is a public place (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638177)

Someone overhearing you isn't the same as the bar having each table and barstool wiretapped to listen in on your conversation. It's also not ok for them to do so, even though some certain facist goverment probably scared you enough into believing it is.

Now go check under your bed for monsters...

Re:Facebook is a public place (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | about 2 years ago | (#40638259)

And who the hell relinquishes such personal, and incriminating information on a public server?

Why, everyone on facebook of course. The only facebook profiles without "friends" or pics are bot accounts.

Good one, but... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637769)

Fuck Facebook.

The Muzzies are coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637775)

The Muzzies are coming!
The Muzzies are coming!
Everyone keep calm
They're violent and they're evil,
And they mean to do us harm

Re:The Muzzies are coming (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40637799)

The Muzzies are coming!
The Muzzies are coming!
Everyone keep calm
They're violent and they're evil,
And they mean to do us harm

This is on topic [google.co.uk] for once. I just hope that Facebook pay particular attention to conversations in Urdu.

Re:The Muzzies are coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638169)

So you're encouraging Facebook to not only eavesdrop and collect this data but use ethnic profiling as well? I guess you also want FB to pay particular attention to Catholics with the high rate of abuse by the church? Or those involved in athletics?

You're a brainwashed moron.

Re:The Muzzies are coming (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 years ago | (#40638217)

So you're encouraging Facebook to not only eavesdrop and collect this data but use ethnic profiling as well? I guess you also want FB to pay particular attention to Catholics with the high rate of abuse by the church? Or those involved in athletics?

You're a brainwashed moron.

I am more concerned that the main abusers don't get left out because they use a language other than English. If they catch some Catholics and Athlete pedos as well then all the better.

And people wonder (5, Insightful)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | about 2 years ago | (#40637791)

why facebook has become unhip. While I've got no sympathy whatever for this particular individual, the reality is that the filters are completely opaque, and copyvio, sedition, and heresy are all crimes in various jurisdictions that facebook does business. Thus, according to the precedents already in play, if a person in Germany says something that offends the pope, he can be arrested and extradicted. The list can be extended almost indefinitely.

Re:And people wonder (5, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40637877)

There were stories detailing the moderation system there recently, and a lot of this "moderation" is taking place in other countries. This has led to a lot of cultural confusion.

I like cosplay girls (sue me) and this has been a constant problem with some of these girls. They post a bikini picture or something a bit too sexy, someone (usually attributed to the theoretical "jealous bitch"), and then a moderator somewhere throws it out saying it's pornographic.

I can easily see the same thing happening for "criminal activity," though you would hope that wouldn't survive the escalation process. But how far does the outsourcing go???

Eh? (2)

trancemission (823050) | about 2 years ago | (#40637813)

Officers took control of the teenager's computer and arrested the man the next day.

What does this mean? As a typical /. user I skimmed the links.....

Re:Eh? (3, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40638013)

I suppose that means the police either physically confiscated the teenager's computer or Facebook has the ability to change her credentials so that the police logged in as her.

Online income (-1, Offtopic)

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1984 in real time (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637839)

"It was terribly dangerous to let your thoughts wander when you were in any public place or within range of a telescreen. The smallest thing could give you away. A nervous tic, an unconscious look of anxiety, a habit of muttering to yourself--anything that carried with it the suggestion of abnormality, of having something to hide. In any case, to wear an improper expression on your face...; was itself a punishable offense. There was even a word for it in Newspeak: facecrime..." -- George Orwell, "1984", chapter 5

That's a wiretap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637885)

I think Facebook is in serious breach of criminal law. This is private communication between two-parties over a telecommunications system, just because they own it does not change this fact. The collection, analysis and forwarding to authorities for whatever reason is an intercept of communications.

This is highly criminal. In a foreign context, it is arguably espionage.

Where are the Feds?

Re:That's a wiretap (1, Insightful)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 2 years ago | (#40637903)

No it's not. Facebook isn't a telecommunications system. There is no legal expectation of privacy.

You will never get the Feds to call the Internet a common carrier like your telephone system. Never in a million years. They're power mad now.

Re:That's a wiretap (0)

netwarerip (2221204) | about 2 years ago | (#40637969)

Only if facebook is considered a 'telecommunications system', and I don't think it is.
If 'insert-isp-here' had been capturing packets between the pedo's pc and facebook, reading them, and then acted up on it you would have a better argument.

but its OK that google does the same thing (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#40637911)

few months ago someone in florida was murdered. the cops caught the perps because right before they killed the person they were searching google on how to kill someone in their sleep. google gladly gave up the info

Re:but its OK that google does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638003)

Source please, thanks!

Re:but its OK that google does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638099)

Care to provide citations? Because it doesn't really make sense this way and very CSI-ish in "Zoom in and enhance" way.

How does that even work, "Heya, Google, give us everyone in the vicinity who looked up anything murder-related recently"?

"Heya, Google, give us this suspicious guy's recent searches" is more like that, but still really wonky and is more like circumstantial evidence after the guy's targeted, that's why I'm interested how did that actually work.

Re:but its OK that google does the same thing (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638111)

This is a completely different bowl of noodles. Google likely provided the search information upon being presented a warrant; Facebook proactively scanned stuff (that people wrote expecting privacy) for crimes and whatnot.

Re:but its OK that google does the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638205)

Are you sure? Usually, Google search data is used (with a specific subpoena) to convict someone after they're already suspected.

Re:but its OK that google does the same thing (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#40638221)

My guess, and I can only guess given that you've provided no actual evidence, is that the real story went something like this:
1. Somebody was murdered in Florida.
2. The police investigating the murder discovered evidence that strongly suggested who the perp might be (or narrowed the list down quickly).
3. The police asked Google about the online activities of those people around the time of the murder. Google probably is willing to comply, this being a murder case.
4. Google comes back with: "Hey, check this out, one of those people you asked about searched on how to kill people"
5. The (admittedly circumstantial) evidence from Google was part of the case against the perp, who was convicted.

I'm not seeing the problem.

Thought Crime (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40637941)

Why was he arrested for planning to have sex with her? Is that now illegal?

Fuck this country. All of you in support of the "sex offender registry" are not true US patriots. In this country, you don't get a sex offender registry. We're supposed to value our freedoms. But clearly, considering this will be modded troll, etc., you don't care about your rights in this country.

Ignore this if you're not from the US.

Re:Thought Crime (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#40638031)

Depends on the country. In Canada we have a law that states talking to a under-age person online in such a way that gains there trust and theoretically would put you in a good position to proposition them in the future is illegal (note: even if you had proof that you never planned to meet them in person, it still counts as illegal [and at least technically they do not need proof that you ever planed on doing anything beyond being nice]).

Re:Thought Crime (2)

kraut (2788) | about 2 years ago | (#40638175)

Depends on the country. In Canada we have a law that states talking to a under-age person online in such a way that gains there trust and theoretically would put you in a good position to proposition them in the future is illegal (note: even if you had proof that you never planned to meet them in person, it still counts as illegal [and at least technically they do not need proof that you ever planed on doing anything beyond being nice]).

So Canada has banned sports coaching, youth clubs and activities, not to mention teaching children under 18?

And you can't talk to your friends' kids, either.

Wow.

Oh, yeah, and it's *their* trust in this context.

Re:Thought Crime (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40638071)

Why was he arrested for planning to have sex with her? Is that now illegal?

It's a matter of legal philosophy. Most Americans want the police to stop crimes from happening, not to just track down and arrest criminals after a crime is committed.

It's not just child abuse. You can be arrested for trying to buy drugs from an undercover police officer. You can be arrested for conspiring to murder someone. You can be arrested for planning to blow up a building.

Won't ANYBODY think of the CHILDREN?!!!11 (1)

mfwitten (1906728) | about 2 years ago | (#40637979)

You're bothered by Facebook and the Government tapping all of your communications? What are you? A pedophile-sympathizer? Maybe even a pedophile yourself?! Hey, everybody, keep an eye on this guy! He's got a goatee!

If you're a good person, you shouldn't have anything to hide! Amirite?

Re:Won't ANYBODY think of the CHILDREN?!!!11 (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about 2 years ago | (#40638055)

Facebook is a service, not a right. If you have an issue with the terms of service (which are known before you signed up), you can simply not use the service. If this was general Internet wiretapping, you might have cause for concern.

Re:Won't ANYBODY think of the CHILDREN?!!!11 (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#40638215)

You can say the same thing about the Internet. You do not need to be online, it's just a service that you agree to the terms of (have you read your ISP's terms?).

I am not on Facebook, and for some reason, people get aggravated when they try to communicate with me. As if email or a phone call were some terrible burden. When Facebook becomes the primary way for people to communicate, it will not be a voluntary service; those who refuse to join will become social outcasts, like people who do not have a phone number. We are pretty close to that point already.

Welcome to the free world (5, Insightful)

Eyeball97 (816684) | about 2 years ago | (#40638045)

The only think that astonishes me about this story, is that anybody is surprised by it.

The sweeping changes that took place post 9/11, and continue to take place, are delivering us inexorably into the stuff of fiction.

Re:Welcome to the free world (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638197)

This comment tempts me mightily to register and hopefully be able to get mod points - it should be rated 6 - Informative.

Then again, the story itself is reason why I shouldn't register. (No offense, /. - general principles and not anything you've done...)

Re:Welcome to the free world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638209)

Pretty damn convenient timing for 9/11 to happen as the internet reached this level of maturity and scale.

Thought crimes vs real crimes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638079)

There is a difference between thought crimes and real crimes. And this article just reinforces that notion, unless an actual act has been committed, you should not be prosecuted. Because now a innocent man's life has been ruined.

Prosecutors now look to make quick names for themselves, going after crimes that did not occur is the easy way to make a name. And the companies aren't helping by acting as judge jury and executioner.
Just because he talked about sex doesn't make him guilty. Unless he actually went to the school, convinced her and they had sex then should actually be prosecuted.

The most facebook should have done is alerted the parents and then have a heart to heart talk with the man.

Re:Thought crimes vs real crimes. (2)

kraut (2788) | about 2 years ago | (#40638229)

There is a difference between thought crimes and real crimes.

Thinking about underage sex doesn't get you arrested.
Making active preparations - he'd arranged to meet her - does.

And the companies aren't helping by acting as judge jury and executioner.

hyperbolic and incorrect; they merely acted as informants.

Just because he talked about sex doesn't make him guilty. Unless he actually went to the school, convinced her and they had sex then should actually be prosecuted.

The most facebook should have done is alerted the parents and then have a heart to heart talk with the man.

If I ever come across a plot to kill you, Mr AC, I'll bear that in mind, and keep the information to myself until after the murder. It's what you would have wanted.

liability (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638147)

Isn't facebook now liable for all the illegal activity (criminal and civil) they don't catch? I though ISPs avoided doing crap like this because it exposed them to liability for all communications. What's changed?

jokes (4, Insightful)

AxemRed (755470) | about 2 years ago | (#40638159)

I'm concerned that Facebook could end up flagging something as illegal that is really an inside joke between friends. I make lots of jokes about illegal activities with friends. They're usually about violent crimes or hard drugs rather than sex crimes, but still... We know each other well enough to catch the sarcasm. But sarcasm doesn't always show through very well in text when being read by strangers.

Did they consider the liability issue? (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 2 years ago | (#40638167)

Wonder who is doing legal advising to Facebook.

Now, every victim could potentially sue Facebook for not protecting them from predators. "We read news report about Facebook monitoring our chats and catching the criminals. It is all Facebook's fault I lied to my parents, played hookey with school and took a bus to Middle Ofnowhere from Gated Condos, Florida". And every false positive could end up with a suit against Facebook for slander, loss of reputation. And privacy advocates could sue Facebook for violation expectations of privacy. It looks like an all around lose-lose-lose proposition. Why are they doing it?

Re:Did they consider the liability issue? (1)

eriklou (1027240) | about 2 years ago | (#40638261)

Yea cant wait to see all the people now portentously trying to trigger false positives.

Privacy? what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40638267)

just don't type "Operation Swordfish" in your message. You'll end up butthurt.

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