Police officers don't need to develop high-tech digital surveillance tools to scour the Internet for evidence. Facebook is powerful enough.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Thursday that he'd be working with Facebook's engineers to use data analytics to comb the social network for human trafficking. Facebook will apply its search algorithms to ads, scanning information like text and images to crack down on sex-work services that are involved in child abuse.
How it works: Facebook's "artificial intelligence" tools are helping to build a giant database of our faces. In order to make your News Feed a place you want to be, Facebook needs to know what kind of posts and photos to recommend you. But Facebook's algorithms need text, so Facebook has an ever-expanding artificial intelligence program that can scan and determine what photos contain.
But at present, Facebook isn't making its facial recognition databases available to police officers, further staving off the public-sector surveillance of our biometric data.
For now, our private information remains out of the hands of police surveillance, reserved for corporations trying to sell us products.
"Facebook is not providing the attorney general's office access to its facial recognition software or conducting any facial recognition on its platform as part of this agreement," Facebook representatives told Fortune. "Instead, Facebook will provide technical assistance to Schneiderman's staff — at their request — in adopting existing, commercially available technology that may help find trafficking victims online."
For now, all of our private information remains safely out of the hands of police surveillance, reserved just for brands and corporations manipulating us into purchasing products.