Facebook asks users for nude photos to combat revenge porn using new tech.
As ugly breakups go, posting private photos of your now-ex partner is somewhere near the top of the naughty list. The practice of so-called ‘revenge porn’ is damaging and prevalent, though, that some jurisdictions are even testing the legislative waters by enacting laws against it.
Revenge porn can take on a few different manifestations, but essentially, your ex has in his or her possession compromising photos of you. You might have the risque boudoir pics yourself, allowed them to be taken by the other party for laughs, or even had the photos of you taken without your knowledge or consent, such as if you were asleep or inebriated. These photos fall into the category of revenge porn if the other party posts them somewhere, typically to cause you harm.
Facebook is a common breeding ground for revenge porn, and now the social media company is experimenting in Australia with a fairly risky option: if you have reason to believe a former love interest or friend has compromising content with your likeness, go ahead and send that to Facebook via their Messenger app. They’ll tag the photo in their massive database, and then if anyone tries to upload that image, it will get rejected before it ever sees the light of a wall.
Of course, this assumes you trust Facebook to securely handle and store the image, after first assuming this ex of yours is the kind of person who would risk having their account closed for disseminating nude images and risk the legal repercussions. If you were able to discern that about them, why would you send them images or agree to be photographed?
‘Hash’ to create digital fingerprint
The technology behind Facebook’s experiment involves blurring the image after hashing it, storing it only long enough to make sure the image is recognized by their system, the deleting it. This kind of effort has failed in the past for very simple reasons, namely that cropping the image or even writing on it with a digital markup or watermark could fool the hashing parameters. Facebook claims to have greatly improved on the original measures, though, and is rolling out the experiment on a limited basis.
In the US, an estimated 4% of social media users have been the victim of unwanted sharing of their personal content, but when you consider the billions of active users out there, that stops being an insignificant number.