May 23, 2018 8:41 pm

After Australia trial, Facebook wants Canadians to upload nude pics to fight revenge porn

Facebook claims to be able to develop an “image hash,” which essentially gives a photo a digital fingerprint.

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Last November, Facebook announced a new initiative to combat revenge porn on its platform that asked users to submit their explicit selfies to help Facebook editors better combat revenge porn.

It wasn’t received well, though despite the backlash, the program has now been extended to Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. after a pilot program in Australia.

The program allows users who want to protect themselves against having their photos shared online without their consent to share them privately with Facebook and Instagram ahead of time. This way, Facebook claims to be able to develop an “image hash,” which is essentially giving it a digital fingerprint.

“It would be like sending yourself your image in an email, but obviously this is a much safer, secure end-to-end way of sending the image without sending it through the ether,” Australia’s safety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, told ABC at the time.


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“They’re not storing the image. They’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies. So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded,” Grant added.

If a Facebook user is concerned that a sensitive image of them may be shared on the platform, Australia’s pilot program would have had the user upload the image into a chat with themselves on Messenger, allowing Facebook to hash the image. According to a report by Vox, the process is called perceptual image hashing, and also enables functions like reverse image searching.

READ MORE: Facebook wants you to upload your nude photos — to help fight revenge porn

Victims of revenge porn must contact one of Facebook’s partners in this initiative — the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner, the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence in the U.S., the U.K. Revenge Porn Helpline, and YWCA Canada, depending on which country you live in. The user then fills out the form, receives a one-time post link, and uploads the image.

Facebook says this can be done after a photo is already circulating, or as a preventative measure to protect oneself against parties that may share your personal images, such as a vindictive former partner or someone who harasses or bullies the victim online.

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“It’s demeaning and devastating when someone’s intimate images are shared without their permission, and we want to do everything we can to help victims of this abuse. We’re now partnering with safety organizations on a way for people to securely submit photos they fear will be shared without their consent, so we can block them from being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and Messenger,” said Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety at Facebook, in a post on the platform.

Facebook has yet to comment on the success of Australia’s pilot project.

The social media giant is coming off a major data scandal involving the distribution of user data to analytics firm Cambridge Analytica after being collected by an academic researcher. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has undergone questioning by lawmakers in both the U.S. and the U.K., and several countries have launched investigations into Facebook’s data-handling practices.

— With a file from Katie Dangerfield 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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