Facebook Plans To Surveil Encrypted WhatsApp Messages

Social media giant Facebook may soon begin using on-device AI algorithms, a back-door content scanner, to moderate content on its WhatsApp messaging service in another attempt to enforce its “acceptable speech” policy.

WhatsApp is supposed to have end-to-end encryption, which should keep communicates private, but the algorithm, tantamount to a wiretapping algorithm, would read messages prior to encrypting and sending them and delete “suspicious activity.”  

“In Facebook’s vision, the actual end-to-end encryption client itself such as WhatsApp will include embedded content moderation and blacklist filtering algorithms,” Forbes reports. “These algorithms will be continually updated from a central cloud service, but will run locally on the user’s device, scanning each cleartext message before it is sent and each encrypted message after it is decrypted.

“The company even noted that when it detects violations it will need to quietly stream a copy of the formerly encrypted content back to its central servers to analyze further, even if the user objects, acting as true wiretapping service.”

On May 1, Facebook unveiled its plans to use AI-powered systems to moderate content instead of human-staffed data centers to better prevent users from sharing content that violates its speech guidelines.

If implemented, the algorithmic filtering of messages, which would like outside of the app’s encryption process, could pave the way for government to force social media firms to spy on user messages for them, security expert Bruce Schneier warns

“Once this is in place, it is easy for the government to demand that Facebook add another filter — one that searches for communications that they care about — and alert them when it gets triggered,” security expert Schneier said. 

Currently, there are alternatives users can use besides Facebook, but Facebook’s employment of these systems could lead to device manufacturers and mobile operating system developers embedding similar tools directly into their devices, ending the era of encryption communications.

“Of course, alternatives like Signal will exist for those who don’t want to be subject to Facebook’s content moderation, but what happens when this filtering technology is built into operating systems?”

Mark Zuckerberg’s monopolist tech company will also utilize its global mass surveillance infrastructure with its new cryptocurrency Libra, scanning transaction through the Calibra wallet.

Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly investigating Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp as part of an antitrust investigation.

The agency’s probe will determine whether Facebook was trying to eliminate potential competitors to prevent any challenges to the social media giant.

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