Facebook wants you to send it your nude photos to combat revenge porn

Facebook has partnered with an Australian government agency to prevent sexual images – colloquially known as ‘nudes’ – from being shared on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger without the subject’s consent.

Individuals who have shared intimate images with (ex-)partners and are worried about them being distributed using the aforementioned platforms can submit them to be “hashed” – converted into a unique digital footprint.

The way it works is simple: You send yourself the image using Messenger, then Facebook converts it into an identifiable code, which it uses to block attempts to upload the same picture to any of its services.

Julia Inman Grant, Australia’s e-safety commissioner, said that the technology will allow victims of “image-based abuse” to take action before explicit pictures are shared using Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Facebook’s technology will also work with Instagram.

“We see many scenarios where photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly, she told Australian news outlet ABC.

The system Facebook is experimenting with is similar to the algorithm Google uses to detect – and automatically remove – copyrighted material on YouTube. What’s worrying about that, however, is that it has its flaws.

Pirates can manipulate the timing of a video to throw Big G’s crawlers off their game, and there’s nothing to say that voyeurs won’t distort images in a similar way – by applying a filter, for example – to fool Facebook’s engine.

In the Australian pilot, users must complete a form on the e-safety commissioner’s website outlining their concerns, before sending the pictures they are concerned about to themselves using Messenger.

While it trains the algorithm, Facebook will assign a human Community Operations Analyst, who will be responsible for accessing, hashing and protecting images, to every case the commissioner hands over.

Facebook will store the pictures on its secure servers for a short period of time, so it can ensure it’s enforcing the policy correctly, reports the Guardian. “Once they’ve been reviewed, they’ll be deleted,” the company said.

It’s reassuring to see Facebook attempting to tackle the ‘revenge porn’ issue, but we can’t help but feel like it’s missing the mark – and that’s because WhatsApp is missing from the list of supported platforms.

WhatsApp is noticeably missing from the list.

If you’ve ever handled an explicit picture, chances are it sent was using WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned company, or Snapchat. Only a small number, in comparison, are transmitted through Facebook and Instagram.

It’s unclear whether Facebook is planning on bringing the technology to WhatsApp once it’s capable of running autonomously, but if it really wants to make revenge porn a thing of the past, it will most definitely need to.

Would you send Facebook an explicit image to prevent it from being shared? Be sure to let us know over on Facebook or Twitter @TrustedReviews.