Facebook has revealed that is is actively monitoring your posts and chat conversations for criminal activity and then reporting it to your local police.
According to Facebook Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan, the company uses a complex program that searches for words and phrases, and compares that to your online presence, date of birth, and other information and once the program flags something, sends it to Facebook's private security monitoring department where it is reviewed. Once reviewed, Facebook then decides if it should be reported to police or not.
Facebook also scans the pictures you upload and compares them to mugshots, arrest records and other public databases to determine if you've been naughty or nice in your past. Interestingly, even if you give a false name and false date of birth, if you upload a picture of yourself, they claim they can still determine your real identity about 50% of the time.
Creepy? Some say no and some say yes. Apparently it all depends on your point of view. But is it legal or constitutional?
Security experts say it's all legit, and helps to protect users and the public from criminals and sexual predators, and if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Facebook's Sullivan claims it has a very low false-positive rate.
On the flip side, privacy advocates say it is illegal, a clear violation of the constitution, and that it's not about if you've done something wrong, but that you have the right to privacy.
So far, the courts have not weighed in in any significant manner to give a more clear guidance as to what is too much oversight and big-brother like activities by private companies.
Facebook points to at least one case in which it helped police stop a sexual predator and to convict him in court, something Facebook says is of serious importance in protecting its users from those that do not have an honest intent.
The person convicted was a man who had turned 18 a few days earlier and had sex with his 17-year-old-girlfriend who was herself just days away from turning 18.