Send Nudes? Facebook Wants Your Naked Pics to Prevent Revenge Porn

Facebook wants to create a digital fingerprint of your nude photos with “hashing” technology, to block the photo from being uploaded to Facebook platforms, including Instagram and Messenger. Unsplash/Marvin Meyer

Facebook is again testing the boundaries of public trust. In a new campaign aimed to help protect users against revenge porn—when intimate photos that were taken consensually are later shared, without consent, on public platforms—the social media giant is asking users to, for lack of a better term, “send nudes.”

Piloting the idea in Australia, Facebook wants potential revenge porn victims to send nude photos of themselves to Facebook, so Facebook can store the information and block the photos from ever appearing on its platforms, Australian broadcaster ABC first reported.

Facebook is partnering with the Office of the e-Safety Commissioner of Australia to carry out the program.

To participate, users must first contact an e-Safety commissioner identifying themselves as potential revenge porn victims; the commissioner will then ask users to send a nude photo via Facebook Messenger, so that Facebook can extract the information of the image.

At that point, user privacy is in the hands of a Facebook community operations analyst.

(On a side note: last week, a disgruntled Twitter employee deleted Donald Trump’s account for a short period of time on his last day at work.)

The analyst will then create a digital fingerprint of your photo with “hashing” technology—basically an image-recognition tool—and block the same photo from being uploaded to Facebook platforms, including Instagram and Messenger.

“To be clear, people can already report if their intimate images have been shared on our platform without their consent, and we will remove and hash them to help prevent further sharing on our platform,” Facebook said in a statement yesterday.

The Guardian reported the “hashing” technology was invented by Microsoft in 2009 to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children track down the pictures of sexually abused children being distributed on the Internet.

The initiative is highly praised by legal experts. “This is a complex challenge and they have taken a very thoughtful, secure, privacy sensitive approach at a small scale with victim advocates on the frontline,” Danielle Keats Citron, a law professor at the University of Maryland who consulted Facebook on the program, said in a statement.

Carrie Goldberg, a New York-based sexual privacy lawyer, told The Guardian, “With its billions of users, Facebook is one place where many offenders aggress because they can maximize the harm by broadcasting the nonconsensual porn to those most close to the victim. So this is impactful.”

But the Internet is weirded out. Since multiple news outlets reported the news, people have been posting Memes and Gifs on Twitter mocking the idea.

 

 

Although perhaps bizarre, this is the safest approach to prevent revenge porn Facebook could think of. Julie Inman Grant, an e-Safety commissioner, told ABC, ”[Facebook] thought of many different ways about doing this and they came to the conclusion as one of the major technology companies in the world that this was the safest way for users to share the digital footprints.”

And it can be addressing an issue more serious than people think.

Inman Grant said 20 percent of Australian women between the age of 18 and 45 are victims of revenge porn.

In the U.S., 10 percent of women under 30 have been victims of revenge porn,  a 2016 report from the Data & Society Research Institute shows.

Facebook is in talks with nongovernmental organizations to expand the program to the U.S., a Facebook spokesperson told Observer.

Send Nudes? Facebook Wants Your Naked Pics to Prevent Revenge Porn