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Facebook Expands Its Efforts Against Revenge Porn

First piloted in Australia, the program will now roll out in Canada, the UK, and the US.

Posted on May 22, 2018, at 6:41 p.m. ET

Just months after it was rocked by a massive privacy scandal, Facebook is offering people a chance to upload their nudes to "specially-trained representatives" in an effort to fight revenge porn.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it is expanding its efforts to combat revenge porn in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US. To do that, the company will let people upload nude or otherwise intimate photos of themselves that they fear might be shared without their consent on Facebook, Instagram, or Facebook Messenger. It will then, essentially, fingerprint those photos to prevent them from being shared on its networks.

In a Facebook post, Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis explained how the program, which was initially announced in Australia last November, would work:

- Anyone who fears an intimate image of them may be [shared] publicly can contact one of our partners to submit a form
- After submitting the form, the victim receives an email containing a secure, one-time upload link
- The victim can use the link to upload images they fear will be shared
- One of a handful of specifically trained members of our Community Operations Safety Team will review the report and create a unique fingerprint, or hash, that allows us to identify future uploads of the images without keeping copies of them on our servers
- Once we create these hashes, we notify the victim via email and delete the images from our servers — no later than seven days
- We store the hashes so any time someone tries to upload an image with the same fingerprint, we can block it from appearing on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger

Facebook could not immediately be reached for comment.

When the pilot program was announced in Australia, there was concern regarding "specially-trained representatives" being able to view uploaded nudes. At the time, Facebook explained that the "specially-trained representative" from the social network's Community Operations team would review the image before "hashing" it.

But once the hash is stored, Facebook noted that the company "creates a human-unreadable, numerical fingerprint of it," while not saving the actual photo. Translation: After the first review, Facebook employees will not be able to view the nude, but its secure code will be there in case anyone tries to upload it in the future.

The post suggests that the pilot program is just the beginning of a larger series to combat revenge porn. As such, it is partnering up with safety organizations, survivors, and victim advocates, including the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, the National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US, the UK Revenge Porn Helpline, and YWCA Canada.


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