Facebook Monitors Your Posts and Chats To Catch Sexual Predators

Facebook Monitors Your Posts and Chats To Catch Sexual Predators


Ever wonder if Facebook is reading your posts? Well, it is—or, its computers are, at least. And if you say the wrong thing, you could be locked up.

That’s the takeaway from a recent Reuters article, which recounted a case in which Facebook’s software detected a man in his thirties allegedly trying to set up a meeting with a 13-year-old Florida girl for sex. From Reuters:

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, said Special Agent Supervisor Jeffrey Duncan of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of soliciting a minor.

Facebook’s chief security officer told Reuters that the company’s monitoring software uses actual chats that led to sexual assaults to predict when another might occur. This is eerily similar to the hypothetical software I discussed in an article last month on whether police could arrest people based on suspicious-looking Google searches. I noted in the piece that while the idea might sound far-fetched, the technology already exists, and it might even be legal.

In Facebook’s case, the scanning hasn’t stirred outrage—probably because it seems to be focused on catching sexual predators. There are two reasons why online predators make sense as an initial target for automatic-monitoring algorithms. First, soliciting sex with a minor on the Internet is a crime in itself, not just a prelude to a crime (like, say, searching Google for ways to murder someone in their sleep). And second, sexual predators are unlikely to elicit much sympathy, so the public is more likely to tolerate intrusive means of nabbing them. Facebook is fighting creepy with creepy.

The key to the technology’s success—from a public-opinion standpoint, and possibly from a legal standpoint—is avoiding false positives. Arresting an innocent person based on a Facebook chat would surely cause controversy. So according to the Reuters piece, Facebook dials down the algorithm’s sensitivity, to minimize the chances of this happening.

It seems clear that this technology has the potential to do some good. But that shouldn’t blind us to the fact that it represents a further erosion of our online privacy, one more serious than selling our personal information to advertisers.


A pill that creates the desire to exercise?

By Melissa Breyer

Scientists have discovered a compound that could make sit-ups and StairMasters as attractive as snacks and the sofa.


More than one-third of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions (heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetesand certain types of cancer) comprise the nation’s leading causes of death. When it comes to the competition between food and exercise, food clearly wins the blue ribbon.

But it’s not for lack of desire. Type in “motivation to exercise” in Google and prepare yourself for 61,900,000 results. It’s just hard to get into the rhythm of going to the gym. So hard, in fact, that people often opt for wacky weight loss fads (diet goggles, anyone?) and questionable diets instead (hello, feeding tube diet). Or, they simply surrender to obesity.
But as researchers are struggling to create safe and effective weight loss drugs, what if there was a pill to make you want to work out? As science fiction seemingly comes to life, it may become a reality. A team of Swiss researchers found that when a hormone in the brain called erythropoietin (Epo) was elevated in mice, the mice were more motivated to exercise.
“Here we show that Epo increases the motivation to exercise,” said Max Gassmann, D.V.M., a researcher involved in the work from the Institute of Veterinary Physiology, Vetsuisse-Faculty and Zurich Center for Integrative Human Physiology at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.
Pop a pill and champ at the bit to hit the gym? This would have remarkable benefits for a wide range of health problems — obesity, obviously, but also mental health disorders for which exercise is known to improve symptoms.
“If you can’t put exercise in a pill, then maybe you can put the motivation to exercise in a pill instead,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal, which published the research. “As more and more people become overweight and obese, we must attack the problem from all angles. Maybe the day will come when gyms are as easily found as fast-food restaurants.”
Now if they can just come up with a pill that motivates you to clean the house.


CDC denies rumors of zombie apocalypse

With reports of flesh-eating coming in from across the nation, rumors of a possible zombie outbreak are spreading on the Internet — but do you really have anything to worry about?


By Laura Moss


On Sunday, a New Jersey man sliced his belly open and began throwing pieces of his intestines at police. On Monday, a Miami man was shot to death by cops while eating the face of a homeless man. Then, on Tuesday, a Maryland manadmitted to dismembering his roommate and eating his heart and brain.

With all these bizarre incidents occurring within a matter of days, it’s no wonder that “zombie apocalypse” has been one of Google’s most popular search terms this week. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says we have nothing to worry about.   Read More Here….