The spirit of privacy

Facebook’s newfound commitment to data protection and privacy is mostly theoretical:

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that new data privacy laws will only apply “in spirit” to more than three quarters of the company’s users.

Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will force the social network to comply with strict rules about the privacy of its European users. But Mr Zuckerberg failed to commit to rolling out the protections globally.

“We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing,” Mr Zuckerberg said on Tuesday. With only 17 per cent of its 2.2 billion users residing within Europe, the vast majority of Facebook’s users will not benefit from the new rules.

But on the plus side, they’ve already scanned all your messages anyhow:

Facebook Inc. scans the links and images that people send each other on Facebook Messenger, and reads chats when they’re flagged to moderators, making sure the content abides by the company’s rules. If it doesn’t, it gets blocked or taken down.

The company confirmed the practice after an interview published earlier this week with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg raised questions about Messenger’s practices and privacy. Zuckerberg told Vox’s Ezra Klein a story about receiving a phone call related to ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Facebook had detected people trying to send sensational messages through the Messenger app, he said.

“In that case, our systems detect what’s going on,” Zuckerberg said. “We stop those messages from going through.”

Of course, it’s not as if Google isn’t doing exactly the same thing with Gmail and Microsoft isn’t doing the same thing with Skype. If it’s on the Internet, someone other than the intended target is reading it. Count on it.