Facebook Messenger Will Help Protect Your Children From Predators

AI safety feature will help identify unwanted contact on Messenger

Attackers and predators trying to use Messenger to reach your kids will soon have to contend with Facebook's AI-driven tool that can detect possible inappropriate contact and help young people take defensive measures before responding.

Facebook Messenger
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If you think interacting on social media is tough for adults, imagine what it's like for your children. They're constant targets and you can't always stand over their shoulders to ensure they're interacting in healthy ways. Facebook's new Messenger safety feature is designed to keep distance between your teen and unwanted predators.

What is it: Messenger in iOS (the feature arrived on Android in March), will provide safety notices when the system detects suspicious activity. No word on if this is also coming to Facebook on the desktop.

Not reading your chats: Facebook explained in a blog post that it's using Machine Learning (a subset of artificial intelligence) to detect behavioral signals, like an adult contacting a larger number of teens under 18 with messages or friend requests. The safety pop-ups are not based on the content of a Messenger conversation, but rather the profile of the person trying to contact your child. Facebook said that doing so will ensure the system continues to work even after Facebook enables end-to-end encryption in Messenger.

What does Facebook say: "People should be able to communicate securely and privately with friends and loved ones without anyone listening to or monitoring their conversations."

Facebook Messenger Safety Tips
An example of Facebook Messenger Safety Tips.  Facebook

Just alerts: Messenger will not automatically block these messages or friend requests. Instead, the alerts will show the user why the contact is suspicious. For example, if a the message comes from an adult with a user name that is very similar to someone you're connected to, the safety system will note that this new person is not the person you know. It will then guide the user to take preventive measures, like "Block this person," before they respond.

Bottom line: You can't always be there to protect your kids from online predators. At least with this small safety update, Facebook is trying to keep an eye out for your children, too.

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