Facebook is trying to combat “revenge porn” by encouraging users in Australia to submit their nude photos to a pilot project designed to prevent intimate images from being shared without consent.
Adults who have shared nude or sexually explicit photos with someone online, and who are worried about unauthorised distribution, can report images to the Australian government’s eSafety Commission.
They then securely send the photos to themselves via Messenger, a process that allows Facebook to “hash” them, creating a unique digital fingerprint. The identifier is used to block any further distribution on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger as a pre-emptive strike against revenge porn, a common method of abuse and exploitation online.
“We’re using image-matching technology to prevent non-consensual intimate images from being shared,” said Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global safety. A Facebook spokesman said Britain, Canada and the United States are also expected to take part in the project. Australia’s eSafety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the initiative empowers people to protect themselves against the unauthorised spread of intimate images.
“It removes control and power from the perpetrator who is ostensibly trying to amplify the humiliation of the victim amongst friends, family and colleagues,” she said. If successful, the Facebook trial should be extended to other online platforms, Inman Grant added. “The precedent already exists for the sharing of child exploitation images and countering violent extremism online, and by extending to image-based abuse we are taking the burden off the victims to report to multiple online platforms.”