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Facebook uses AI to protect minors from messenger scams

Facebook uses AI to protect minors from messenger scams
A new AI-powered safety feature introduces safety notices to help minors avoid scams. Photo courtesy of Facebook

May 21 (UPI) -- Facebook unveiled Thursday an AI-powered messenger to protect minors from scams and unwanted contacts.

The new AI-powered safety feature provides tips to help minors spot potentially malicious activity.

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"We're introducing safety notices in Messenger that will pop up in a chat and provide tips to help people spot suspicious activity and take action to block or ignore someone when something doesn't seem right," Jay Sullivan, director of product management, Messenger privacy and safety, said in a statement. "We started rolling this feature out on Android in March and will bring this to more people around the world on iOS next week."

According to the Privacy and Safety Hub, Facebook leverages artificial intelligence to spot unusual behavioral patterns associated with scamming or "other harmful activities" and remove such content.

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"Messenger already has special protections in place for minors that limit contact from adults they aren't connected to, and we use machine learning to detect and disable the accounts of adults who are engaging in inappropriate interactions with children," Sullivan added. "Our new 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."

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The new feature is designed to work with full encryption so it does not compromise privacy.

It follows the Messenger Coronavirus Community Hub developed in March to help people connect during the pandemic with safeguards in place to help avoid scams and the spread of misinformation.

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Last month Facebook rolled out the Messenger Kids video chat and messaging app to more countries to help kids connect amid closed schools and social distancing due to the pandemic. Parents are able to monitor their children's activity on Messenger Kids through the Parent Dashboard.

Despite Facebook's efforts to avoid the spread of misinformation, "millions of the platform's users are still being put at risk of consuming harmful misinformation on coronavirus at a large scale," according to a study by the U.S.-based nonprofit organization Avaaz.

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