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Facebook Wages Legal War on Company that Claims Its AI Can Predict Crimes

Voyager Labs, a tech startup claiming its AI can predict crimes based on personal data from social media, faces a legal showdown with Facebook over privacy concerns.

Fox News reports that Voyager Labs, a tech startup specializing in AI-based analytics, has found itself at the center of a legal and ethical battle as it faces off against Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (now known as Meta).

Voyager Labs has garnered attention and contracts from major U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the New York City and Los Angeles police departments. The company claims that its AI algorithms can sift through vast amounts of data from various corners of the internet, including social media and the dark web, to “provide insight, uncover potential risks and predict future crimes.” The company is far from the first organization to claim it can uncover “pre-crime,” a term coined by science fiction master Phillip K. Dick for his novel The Minority Report.

However, Facebook has taken issue with Voyager Labs’ methods. In a federal lawsuit, the social media giant claims that the tech company created over 55,000 fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram to collect personal data. The purpose of this data collection was to uncover behavior patterns, infer human behavior, and build a comprehensive presence on their target audience.

The lawsuit has sparked a broader debate about the ethical implications of using AI in law enforcement. Critics argue that the technology could be invasive and discriminatory. “This is invasive, it’s alarming, and it should be illegal,” said Will Owen, communications director at STOP, a privacy advocacy nonprofit. He described Voyager Labs’ tactics as “a new digital form of stop-and-frisk” that targets black and latino New Yorkers.

In defense of its technology, Voyager Labs has stated that it only analyzes publicly available data or data obtained through legal means. “If Meta is truly committed to protecting its users and acting in the public interest, then the use of analytical software by those trying to stop malicious actors should be embraced and encouraged,” said William Colston, a spokesperson for Voyager Labs.


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