Facebook wants to make it harder for crooks to deceive unsuspecting users. The social network is launching a new feature for Messenger that will cause a pop-up window to appear in the app when someone receives a message from someone who might try to scam them or send “potentially dangerous” messages.
The app will scan for potentially suspicious messages from strangers, with the aim of detecting potential scams, impersonation attempts, and adult messages targeting users under the age of 18.
For minors, Facebook will display the warning when they receive a message from an adult they don’t know. The alert “teaches people under the age of 18 to be careful when interacting with an adult they may not know and allows them to take action before responding to a message,” the company said. .
Messenger will use the same type of warning to flush out potential scammers, warning users to “beware of money claims” when they receive a message from someone they are not already friends with. Likewise, the app will also search for messages from accounts that may be trying to impersonate a Facebook friend. When Messenger detects that this may be happening, it alerts users that the person they are sending messages to can pretend to be someone they know.
Identity theft has long been a go-to trick for crooks and a headache for Facebook, which sometimes has struggle to catch counterfeiters, so new messages could help prevent some app users from being duped. At the same time, scammers are constantly developing their tricks to evade detection, so these types of messages are unlikely to be as effective as banning problematic accounts altogether.
Detecting this type of behavior has become especially important for Facebook, as it heads into a future where messages are encrypted by default. Some security advocates have criticized the plan, saying it would only give Facebook less visibility into how bad actors are exploiting its service. Facebook says it has “designed this security feature to work with full encryption,” and notes that it is powered by machine learning technology, which examines the overall behavior of users rather than the content of their messages.
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