Former Facebook employee says child safety team is in turmoil due to End to End Encryption plan

We recently reported that Facebook/Meta has postponed its End to End Encryption (E2EE) plan on Messenger and Instagram until 2023, as the company works to address child safety issues.

Many critics have noted that WhatsApp used E2EE and felt the delay was unreasonable.

Today is David Theil, a former Facebook employee in their Child Safety department and now CTO of Stanford Internet Observatory, posted a thread on Twitter berating both Facebook and their critics for their push towards the E2EE service.

He notes that Facebook’s E2EE motivation is far from pure, but more related to “pre-action attacks against trust, less interaction with LEs (law enforcement), significant shrinking of safety groups, and good marketing.

In short, by hiding Facebook communications from Facebook itself, the company is less responsible for the content it transmits.

Theil said the plan was announced without any roadmap to implement it, and with “an absurdly accelerated timeline,“Before Facebook even decided how to integrate their 3 messaging platforms (WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram).

Worse yet, tests show that when Facebook doesn’t check the content of the messages (as was the case with E2EE), they can only detect “Child grooming, segmentation, and distribution of CSAM“The same 10% if they had actually viewed the contents of the messages, meaning the majority of victims would have escaped detection.

With no clear plan to deal with the issue, and management’s “have to break some eggs” attitude, Theil said many prominent members of the child safety team have resigned.

Theil said the only way to maintain E2EE and still protect children would be to test it from the customer side, as Apple recently did, but Apple discovered that this was a problem for most developers. security research and people in general.

Theil notes that WhatsApp of course already uses E2EE, but due to the 1:1 nature of the network, it does not provide child-ready access by predators, which, unlike Facebook, are designed to introduce people to new friends and expand their socialization. network.

Theil explains:

WhatsApp does not recommend people to make friends and interact. It does not store secret pools of unlimited size. It does not provide global search for every user. It doesn’t group people by location or facility like high schools. While Facebook tries to take existing social networks, merge them and build new ones. This has resulted in extremely inappropriate situations (including literally referring victims to abusers), especially when combined with contact syncing and external pixel tracking.

Even then a lot of abuse is still missed on the platform.

Theil notes that until social networks themselves can become safe from child predators, E2EE should not be added to the system.

Read his full thread here. Former Facebook employee says child safety team is in turmoil due to End to End Encryption plan


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