Social Media sites apparently are running AI software that listens to discussions and then can flag the discussion for monitoring. Is this a good or a bad thing? Facebook have caught one predator already. I remember a dozen years ago, a guy in Japan putting up a status update that he was going on a spree kill – and he did. What would you prefer? Civil Rights or Monitoring? 

Lots of chatter at the moment about Facebook eavesdropping on your chatter. (see what I did there? 😛 )

Facebook and other social platforms are watching users’ chats for criminal activity and notifying police if any suspicious behavior is detected, according to a report.

The screening process begins with scanning software that monitors chats for words or phrases that signal something might be amiss, such as an exchange of personal information or vulgar language.

The software pays more attention to chats between users who don’t already have a well-established connection on the site and whose profile data indicate something may be wrong, such as a wide age gap. The scanning program is also “smart” — it’s taught to keep an eye out for certain phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators. (Mashable)

As an online community manager I want to be up front and say: we live in a Police State anyway. I don’t mean that in a pejorative way – it’s up to you to decide how you feel about it – but there are no grey areas. If you state online that you are going to do something, you will find Police rocking up to your door. Full stop. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs re: communities (online and offline) mean that keeping one’s members safe and secure is priority number 2 (after sustainability of life/identity).

Police find things out by people eavesdropping, overhearing and reporting. And that’s how the community is kept safe. Take this incident on the Japanese online community 2Chan

The Neomugicha incident (西鉄バスジャック事件 Nishi-Tetsu basujakku jiken?) is the name given to the 2000 hijacking of a Japanese bus by a user of internet forum 2channel after placing a warning on the website.

An hour after posting a cryptic threat in a thread with the name “Neomugicha” (“Neo-Barley Tea”; ネオむぎ茶), the 17-year-old youth hijacked a bus “the Wakakusu” (Nishi-Nippon Railroad Co., Ltd.) in Dazaifu, Fukuoka, Japan, stabbing one passenger to death.[1] The Special Assault Team then stormed the hijacked bus and captured the youth alive.

The incident came as a shock to both 2channers, who had mocked Neomugicha as a liar, thinking he was posting about an attack that had already occurred, and to the general public.

Later, a poster named “Neouuroncha” (“Neo-Oolong tea”) attempted to imitate Neomugicha by plotting to blow up the Odakyu Electric Railway in Japan and posting warnings about it on 2channel. After the Neomugicha incident, however, the Japanese police were keeping a close eye on 2ch, so he was identified and arrested before his plan could be carried out.

A poster called “Neomugishu” (“Neo-Barley Wine”) also attempted to imitate the incident, planning a terrorist attack on a railway company, but he was also arrested. (wikipedia)

What would you prefer? Freedom of speech to plot hijackings or monitoring for keywords? By the way, Google owns a patent in ambient noise so I suggest you don’t plot world domination in a crowded cafe either or you might end up on their search page one of these days…