16 Feb 2019
Facebook tracks location of users whom it considers 'credible threats'
It has now been reported that Facebook tracks users for the safety of its employees.
The company, according to a report in CNBC, uses its products' data to keep tabs on the location of people it deems a potential threat to its employees.
It identifies these 'credible threats' and adds their name on a 'Be On the Lookout' (BOLO) list for real-time tracking.
Facebook mines comments to identify potential threats
After speaking to a dozen of former Facebook security employees, CNBC learned that the company analyzes comments on its own platform to identify potential threats to its employees or offices.
It looks for specific or non-specific threats made to Facebook or its employees and then determines if those threats are credible or not.
If deemed credible, the threat-makers are put on an internal watch-list.
BOLO list carries information about threat-makers
As per a former security employee, the BOLO list, first created in 2008, carries hundreds of names of potential threat-makers as well as their details like photos, general location, and the reason why they were added. The list is updated on a weekly basis.
After this, they are tracked
Once a threat-maker is added on the BOLO list, they are tracked using data from Facebook.
It is not exactly clear what criteria is used to deem them credible, but once that's done, location data from the Facebook app or IP address collected by facebook.com is used for tracking.
The location is used to make sure how close they are to the employee/company.
Threats, location data can be also handed over to authorities
Along with location tracking, Facebook can also call authorities based on the threats made on the platform.
To recall, just last year, a Facebook user was tracked and held by authorities as he had made a threat to the company's office and said: "Tomorrow everyone is going to pay".
Going by Facebook's user-base, the company could be analyzing hundreds of thousands of potential threats.
Statement from Facebook spokesperson
"Our physical security team exists to keep Facebook employees safe," Facebook claimed in response to the tracking report. "They use industry-standard measures to assess and address credible threats of violence against our employees and our company and refer these threats to law enforcement when necessary."