Sending nude photos isn’t exactly a new thing. People have been doing it for decades. Before Snapchat there was texting. Before texting there was email. Before email there was… regular mail. Where there was a will to send a sexy photo, there was a way. That’s because it’s fun to share a naughty secret with the person you’re sleeping with. But unfortunately, there are terrible people out there who want to ruin nudes for everyone.
A nude photo is supposed to be between you and the person you send it to, right?
Well, that’s the idea, but what if you break up and the other person decides to get back at you by posting that photo online? It’s a form of revenge porn and it happens to people all the time. That’s why Facebook is testing out a strategy to help people fight against it.
Would you really upload your own nudes to a social media site?
A new feature—which is currently only testing in Australia—will ask users to upload explicit photos of themselves to Facebook Messenger before they send them to anyone else. Users will flag the photo as a “non-consensual intimate image” and Facebook will then build a “hash,” or a unique fingerprint, of the image to store on the social network. If another user attempts to upload the same image on Facebook or Instagram, Facebook will be able to cross-reference it against stored hashes and block it from being posted.
Facebook is going to see all you have to offer.
After you upload an image, a member of Facebook’s community operations team will view it and confirm that it is in violation of the company’s policies. It will then be blurred out and accessible to only a small, specially-trained team. That means there will be a real person you don’t know looking at your naked photo. The difference is, they’ll be doing it specifically to prevent it from even being shared. Human reviewers are a necessary part of the process to ensure that only images that qualify as revenge porn are the ones being flagged.
This isn’t Facebook’s first anti-revenge porn feature.
Another feature instituted in April allows users to report an image as revenge porn so moderators can tag it using photo-matching technology and prevent it from spreading. “In most cases”, the account of the user who shared the image in the first place would then be disabled.
Obviously, the new feature requires users to put a lot of faith in Facebook.
They’re asking people to willingly upload their nude photos in a kind preemptive strike against the possibility of revenge porn. A spokesperson from Facebook clarified that the social network would be storing the blurred out images (not just their hashes) for an undisclosed period of time. Although only a small number of people will have access to them, you don’t know those people or what they are capable of. That’s what makes revenge porn so scary in the first place–you initially shared a picture with someone you trusted and then they turned around and posted it on the internet without your consent.
Revenge porn is a complex issue, especially with the anonymity and infinite nature of the Internet.
Deleting files isn’t as easy as tapping a button and there’s no guarantee that only a select few “specially trained” individuals will be the ones seeing your photos. While there are laws in place to combat revenge porn, once an image or video is on the internet, it’s impossible to erase it completely. You just never know who might have copied it and just when you think it’s over, it could pop up again out of nowhere.
Facebook’s effort to fight against revenge porn means well…
But in practice, it relies on people placing a lot of trust in them. Of course, the only way to make sure you don’t become a victim of revenge porn is to just not take any nude photos in the first place. But where’s the fun in that?
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