A new Facebook Messenger hoax claims that illegal conversations being held over private messenger conversations are being analyzed and automatically sent to police. The hoax specifically targets users of the new Facebook Messenger app, and it claims that 250 have already been arrested for their illegal conversations.
The Facebook Messenger hoax was developed by satirical/entertainment blog ‘Cream Bmp Daily’. That particular website does not create serious or real posts, a sure sign that the hoax is nothing more that a bit of satire that has gone viral.
Example of the Facebook Messenger Police Reporting Hoax:
The Facebook Messenger hoax further claims that police receive immediate text alerts, and that they are provided with the users location so they can make an immediate arrest.
There is a tiny bit of truth to the claim. Facebook does have safety measures in place that can detect possible illegal activities. For example, a 30-year-old male friending 14-year-old girls with their own account or numerous fake accounts, and then sending messages to them. However, Facebook uses that information to find serious sexual predators, and then decides on what they should do with that information after it is analyzed. In 2012 Facebook’s chief of security Joe Sullivan told Forbes.com that the social network seeks out pedophiles and sends serious information to local police and the FBI.
While the Facebook Hoax does indeed have a bit of truth to it, the idea that Facebook is monitoring all illegal activities is simply not true. Despite the social networks privacy concerns among activists, Zuckerberg and company have publicly fought against the NSA and other agencies who have attempted to gain unfettered access to Facebook services for monitoring purposes.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that people actually believe Facebook is scanning private messages and automatically texting police about illegal conversations, after all the social network doesn’t have the best privacy record.
While there is some plausibility to this claim, the over-reaching hoax takes Facebook’s monitoring to a whole new level that simply is not true.