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Updated Jul 16, 2012 - 6:36 am

Facebook checking chat messages for criminal activity

PHOENIX — Facebook is watching.

A new report by Mashable.com said chats on
Facebook are being watched for clues of illegal activity.

The social website
monitors for words or phrases that might be a hint
that a suer is up to something.

“The vast majority of scanning of private conversations is
done electronically. It’s not done by humans,” said Ken
Colburn of Data Doctors.

“A human only gets involved
when the automated mechanism spits out a transaction that
it deems a human should take a look at it.”

Facebook security then decides whether to contact police.

Colburn said that what Facebook is doing is legal.
“Once [your chat message] is committed to a digital form,
it can be monitored, tracked, copied and duplicated in the
blink of an eye,” said Colburn.

“I think users, in
general, have to really understand that.”

In fact, Facebook may not have any choice but to check
chats for criminal activity.

“A lot of what Facebook is going through in this area is
being
forced or pushed just from some of the legal obligations
or potential liability they have by not participating or
turning folks in,” Colburn said.

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