By: Gareth James / April 11, 2018

Zuckerberg scans sent images across Facebook platforms

We are all aware of the algorithms that are used across social media platforms, altering the way our timelines sequence pictures and threads to those we most ‘want’ to see. But one algorithm that is a little less known, is one that gives Facebook the opportunity to access your innermost secrets.

It may not come as a surprise that Facebook is able to scan every single message and photo sent using Messenger (the Facebook communication app). This, which can be seen as an invasion of privacy, is justified by Mark Zuckerberg to act as protection and to keep us (as users) safe. In his latest statement, he declared that his algorithms can block messages being sent if need be, providing the example that they were able to block messages about ethnic cleansing in Myanmar.

The uprise of the internet and social media platforms over the past decade has opened the pathway for mass abusive behaviour. These automated tools, although justified in the same way as government mass surveillance campaigns are. But here the extension of protection extends from scanning for malware or virus, to abusive messages but also in child exploitation, by using photo matching technology.

In reality this is not a new thing, for example the Utah Data Center (also known as: Intelligence Community Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Data Center) is a data storage facility finished in 2014. It is alleged that it is able to process all forms of communication, including emails, phone calls and internet searches (and much more) to help manage serious crimes in the states. This is far more collective than just messaging, but also something that has been rumoured (and acknowledged) over the past few years.

If this mass security is really looking out for our best interests, then well done Zuckerberg, but can this be the whole truth? He is definitely not the first, and certainly won’t be the last, who will be prying into our private affairs. But this is how the system of social networking currently works. This is how our feeds are designed to display information we are interested in and appeal to us. More importantly, this is also how our children, friends and relatives may be protected online. If Zuckerberg can prevent child exploitation, the malicious spreading of malware and viruses, fraud, etc. then maybe we should take the bigger picture and find that he is really protecting us.

At the end of the day, it is not one person who is viewing our content, it is simply an algorithm put together to prevent messages being sent and received if they appear to activate a specific protocol, needing protection.

About Gareth James

Accounts Director at and creator of a best selling iOS app. Gareth loves to help small to medium size businesses get more online exposure. Gareth started his online marketing journey back in 2008.

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