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
“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.