Are Facebook messages public

Facebook reads: Conversations in Messenger are not private (update)

Facebook employees can read user communication in the messenger app and even intervene. A corresponding report on Bloomberg caused a stir.

Facebook Messenger has 1.3 billion users worldwide. It has now become known that Facebook Messenger uses the same automated tools to search content as the main platform Facebook. Employees are called in if they suspect a violation of the Facebook rules. In an interview with Vox author Ezra Klein, founder Mark Zuckerberg said: “In this case [the agitation against Rohingya in Myanmar], our system determines what is going on. We block such messages ”.

Facebook does not want to change anything about that. On Wednesday the company wrote: "Messenger and Instagram are operated by Facebook, the same data protection guidelines apply". This also includes the "analysis of the content that users share". The analysis of content can certainly be useful in order to detect malicious programs, but on the basis of the vaguely formulated community standards it leaves room for arbitrariness.

Many users probably did not realize that communication via Facebook Messenger is by no means private, but can be read by employees. There is even the option of encrypting messages end-to-end within the Facebook Messenger app, but this is deactivated by default. Facebook Messenger remains non-private, but if you still want to use the service, you should check the settings.

Update, 9th April: A PR agency commissioned by Facebook has now responded to this article. On the phone, an employee emphasized that messages are not read by default. At the same time, she said that the private messages of users on Facebook Messenger can also be read to check profiles for authenticity. A fine example of how flexible the powers of Facebook employees to “analyze content” according to the community standards they have written themselves.
The employee also pointed out that users who do not want their messages to be read by Facebook employees should please turn on the encryption themselves.

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About the author

Marie Broeckling

Marie has been writing for netzpolitik.org since 2018. She can be reached at marie.broeckling (at) netzpolitik.org (PGP key) and as broeckling_ on Twitter.
Published 04/06/2018 at 5:24 PM