Facebook’s initiative against Revenge Porn: How It Works

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The sad news prevailing in our society is the rising revenge porn. Revenge porn is a type of abuse, where you explicitly might have granted your partner a consent to record you or take your nude images, and these are then released to the public later on as part of a personal vendetta.

In order to combat this, Facebook has asked its users to send in their nude photos to combat it. This may seem like a good initiative to some, but it might not be as good a measure as it may seem to Van Badham at the guardian.

According to her, what seems is that Facebook regards this as a remedy for those who have been a victim of such abuse. But in reality, is this the right way to go about this? This seems more like sprinkling oil on a building already on fire or plunging deeper into the water when you are already drowning.

There are so many ways to emphasize the “unimportance” of this implementation, that we all dread even thinking. But my way of thinking is quite different.

This new system is currently having a pilot run in Australia. The country’s eSafety Commissioner is currently supporting this cause. Through this, one can upload their nude photo not on Facebook but its related Facebook Messenger app. Then the company’s algorithms would work their magic, and an online digital “body print” would be created which will then help to automatically restrict those who are going to upload the photos as part of revenge porn.

At first, the initial news of such a feature was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Facebook hadn’t yet spoken about it, so there was much speculation surrounded around it, since many were unsure, if it was alright to publish their very own nudes on a social network used by billions.

Antigone Davis, the Facebook’s global head of safety has written in a blog post which explicitly clears out any misleading which people might have had against the programme. Firstly, you will have to choose the image or the video which you think has the most probability of being uploaded by a harasser or your ex-partner.

There is this risk associated with this, and we all know as security chief of Facebook mentioned in a Twitter post, “it’s a risk we are trying to balance against the serious, real-world harm that occurs every day when people (mostly women) can’t stop NCII from being posted”. Here the NCII stands for the non-consensual intimate image, which is more commonly known as revenge porn.

After this, this doesn’t just stop here but you also need to fill out a form through Australia’s eSafety commissioner’s website. When you are done with that, Facebook’s Community Operations’ very own member would analyze your uploaded photo, and then using complex algorithms, “hash” it, which basically is just a fancy name for a digital representation of data, which cannot be understood by humans and is of no use to them.

“We are delighted that Facebook is helping solve this problem—one faced not only by victims of actual revenge porn but also individuals with worries of imminently becoming victims,” Carrie Goldberg, a New York-based sexual privacy lawyer, told the Guardian.

There were some concerns regarding this, therefore the company had also considered to blur out the photos/videos sent for review, so as not to be a source of awkwardness for the uploader, but then this also had a prevalent issue of accidentally hashing legitimate images. Therefore, as explicit and hard it may seem, someone there is still going to look over your sent nude, but according to Facebook itself, these are “specially trained representatives.”

According to Stamos, “There are algorithms that can be used to create a fingerprint of a photo/video that is resilient to simple transforms like resizing.” Therefore, this basically implies that there aren’t any easy hacks whatsoever which would enable the harasser to upload resized photos to bypass the company’ detection algorithm.

“Once we hash the photo, we notify the person who submitted the report via the secure email they provided to the eSafety Commissioner’s office and ask them to delete the photo from the Messenger thread on their device,” Antigone Davis wrote. “Once they delete the image from the thread, we will delete the image from our servers.”

This is good news here that the social networking app would just be keeping your uploaded photo for just a small amount of time. Further, it would just be a simple blurry version of what you uploaded, and that too can just be accessed by a handful of employees on the Community Operations team.

Further explaining on Twitter, “To prevent adversarial reporting, at this time we need to have humans review the images in a controlled, secure environment”. He further stated that “We are not asking random people to submit their nude photos. This is a test to provide some option to victims to take back control. The test will help us figure out how to best protect people on our products and elsewhere.”

As per a report from the Data & Society Research Institute for 2016, the revenge porn is on the rise, with at least 10 percent of the women of the United States with ages less than 30 have been a victim of such.

Though highly controversial as it may seem to others, this is coming from a huge company of the world, which we have already entrusted so much with our credit card info, and all our private messages, so what harm can it possibly do to entrust them with a task which they are happily willing to do themselves, just to see a better world someday; a world without revenge porn!

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