Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive officer, has admitted that his social network scans the content of private messages.
He said this on a podcast with Ezra Klein on the Ezra Klein show.
“We detected that people were trying to spread sensational messages,” Zuckerberg said.
“In that case, our systems detect what’s going on. We stop those messages from going through.
“That’s the kind of thing where I think it is clear that people were trying to use our tools in order to incite real harm.”
Furthermore, a spokesperson for the company told Bloomberg that Facebook’s objective for monitoring private messages is to prevent abuse.
“For example, on Messenger, when you send a photo, our automated systems scan it using photo matching technology to detect known child exploitation imagery or when you send a link, we scan it for malware or viruses,” the Facebook Messenger spokesperson said.
“Facebook designed these automated tools so we can rapidly stop abusive behaviour on our platform.”
The disclosure comes in the wake of Facebook being caught in the middle of a data hacking controversy.
In March, news broke that Cambridge Analytica, a UK-based political data-analytics firm hired by the 2016 Trump campaign, illegally gained access to data for 50 million Facebook users.
Soon after, the company created new privacy tools to give users full and easy control over their data.