Facebook asks users for nude pics in rollout of new ‘security’ program
June 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook has raised eyebrows by asking their users to submit nude photos of themselves, ostensibly to test a new security feature to guard against “revenge porn.”
On May 22, Facebook Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis wrote a post on the topic of revenge porn, in which someone publicly shares nude or intimate photos of another person without consent, for the purpose of humiliating him or her. The social media giant already deletes such photos upon request, but Davis said it wanted to be more proactive about the problem.
To that end, she announced Facebook was testing a new tool in which people can choose to preemptively send photos they want to keep from being published to a “secure, one-time upload link.” Then a “specifically trained” member of Facebook’s Community Operations Safety Team will create a digital fingerprint that can be used to automatically block any attempt to upload that picture. The fingerprint, or hash, will enable Facebook to flag the photo without keeping their own copy, which it promises would be deleted within days of submission.
Facebook first announced the proposal in November, and recently began testing it in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
“This is one step to help people who fear an intimate image will be shared without their consent,” Davis concluded. “We look forward to learning from this pilot and further improving our tools for people in devastating situations like these.”
Revenge porn is a pervasive problem, affecting an estimated 10 million American women overall, more than 350 Canadian women per year, and more than a thousand UK women per year. However, some observers fear Facebook’s response could create more problems than it solves.
Most coverage has raised the specter of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which Cambridge whistleblower Christopher Wylie testified that the analytics company was able to acquire the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users without their consent. That scandal followed former Obama for America media director Carol Davidsen’s admission that Facebook allowed the former president’s campaign to take users’ personal information because the company supported him.
“Facebook: We didn't protect your data and we are sorry. We will do better. Also Facebook: Yo, send us your nudes,” the Net Neutrality advocacy group Fight for the Future sarcastically responded on Twitter.
Chief among objections to the plan is that even if Facebook doesn’t store the photos, the screening requires another human to view them at least once, raising the possibility of abuse. CBC News technology columnist Ramona Pringle writes some have proposed that Facebook instead use facial recognition technology to automatically flag any upload depicting a specific user before it goes live.
In a report last month, Facebook claimed its artificial intelligence was able to automatically detect 96% of nude material before it was reported, raising additional questions about the necessity of humans reviewing images that are not yet on Facebook at all.
Aja Romano of the left-wing website Vox added that Facebook “has a history of failing to protect its users from revenge porn,” citing the company’s 2018 settlement of a 2014 court case in which a teenage girl was blackmailed into providing nude photos that were then published against her will. The family’s attorneys said Facebook failed to prevent repeated sharing of the photos as late as 2016.
Regardless of how tech companies decide to prevent users from publishing revenge porn, choosing not to share intimate photos in the first place remains the most effective way to ensure one will not become a victim of it.