In a bid to make Messenger safer, Facebook has introduced a new feature that will help millions of people, especially minors, avoid potentially harmful interactions and possible scams without compromising their privacy. The Messenger users will now see safety notices popping up in a chat and provide tips to help them spot suspicious activity and take action to block or ignore someone when something doesn't seem right.
Facebook started rolling this feature out on Android in March and would bring this to more people around the world on iOS this week. "Privacy, safety and security are fundamental to Messenger. We work hard to ensure Messenger is a safe place to connect with the people who matter most while also protecting their privacy," according to By Jay Sullivan, Director of Product Management, Messenger Privacy and Safety.
As Facebook Messenger moves to end-to-end encryption, it is investing in privacy-preserving tools to keep people safe without accessing message content. "We developed these safety tips with machine learning that looks at behavioural signals like an adult sending a large amount of friend or message requests to people under 18," informed Sullivan. Facebook said that keeping minors safe on its platforms is one of the greatest responsibilities. Messenger already has special protections in place for minors that limit contact from adults they aren't connected to and uses machine learning to detect and disable the accounts of adults who are engaging in inappropriate interactions with children.
The new safety feature educates people under the age of 18 to be cautious when interacting with an adult they may not know and empowers them to take action before responding to a message. "These features show a great integration of the technical tools that will help curb bad behaviour on the platform, while also reminding people of their own control over their account," said Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute.
Too often people interact with someone online they think they know or trust when it's really a scammer or imposter. The new safety notices in Messenger also help educate people on ways to spot scams or imposters and help them take action to prevent a costly interaction. "As Messenger becomes end-to-end encrypted by default, we will continue to build innovative features that deliver on safety while leading on privacy," said the company.