Thanks to all the users who tried out Airtime yesterday. Even though we anticipated people using the service in a variety of creative ways, we were still amazed by some of the stories you all shared with us and the interesting connections people have made on Airtime. Our goal is to create serendipity for our users and we hope you’ll all continue to say hello to one another in fun, unique, interesting, imaginative, but always safe ways.
User safety at Airtime is a top priority for us and something we’re proud to be investing in — our internal safety group is actually the largest team at the company. There have been some questions about what Airtime does to ensure user safety on the service, and we wanted to take a moment to share our process.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between a direct call and a matched call. We refer to any video chat between two Facebook or Airtime friends as a direct call. We do not monitor direct calls on Airtime, allowing our users to always have private conversations with their friends.
Matched calls refer to video chats on Airtime between people who aren’t Facebook or Airtime friends already. Since it’s likely the two people in a matched call don’t know each other, we take periodic screenshots during the video chat to monitor for any inappropriate conduct. Screenshots are taken for all matched calls and we only take screen captures, not video or audio recordings, as part of our safety measures.
These screenshots are then run through an automated, algorithmic review process which utilizes a variety of custom technologies including face detection and luminosity detection. We store these screenshots indefinitely to detect patterns in abuse and train our algorithmic systems. Screenshots that are flagged as problematic by our systems are first anonymized and reviewed by our team of trained safety professionals. Any misbehavior on the part of a user in a match will lead to their account being locked immediately. One strike and you’re out. It’s a strict policy, because of how seriously we take user safety.
Another key way we ensure safety is by tying people’s behavior to an identity. In a matched call, we initially keep the name of each person anonymous. If, during the video chat, one side requests to add the other person to their Airtime friend list and the other person accepts that request, then the names of each person are revealed to the other. But even when your name is anonymized, your account on Airtime is still tied to your Facebook account and identity and so you’re always accountable for your behavior.
If you have any further questions about our safety policies, refer to our FAQ. After one day, we’re happy that we’ve rarely had to enforce any of our policies despite a high volume of matched calls, and some of those were from curious users trying to test our safety systems in amusing ways. If you believe your account was locked by mistake, please contact us and we’ll take a look.
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