This week, Facebook announced that it be would rolling out a new system to combat revenge porn and explicit photos being shared on the site, Messenger, or Instagram. And all the social media network needs to protect your nude photos is...for you to first submit your nude photos.
Friends, please do not submit your nude photos to Facebook.
The way that the new program works is by using the same image “hashing” technology that brought us reverse Google image search, Vox reports. Basically, if you’re someone who thinks their nudes are being shared, you can contact Facebook to submit a form, which leads you to a secure upload link for uploading said nude photos. Facebook creates a hash (sort of like a fingerprint) for that photo and then deletes the photo within seven days, ultimately using the hash to identify your nude photos if they’re posted by others. The program is officially titled the “Non-Consensual Intimate Image Pilot” and is made in partnership with safety organizations like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence, among others. It was also announced back in November 2017, but has raised eyebrows this week in particular due to expanding the program to other countries.
Obviously, there is a lot that can go wrong here! For starters I’d say that the program is already limiting in that it depends on you, nude photo taker, to identify which photos could potentially be distributed (and if your evil ex from, say, ten years ago decides to distribute your nudes, what if you don’t have them anymore? What if you don’t remember what they were?) And then there is the glaringly obvious issue that you’re giving your intimate photos over to an evil corporation that has already compromised the data of millions of people. So why on earth would you trust them with your nude photos?
There is also something disgustingly ironic about the program considering we wouldn’t have Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg’s little 2003 Harvard experiment FaceMash which, as anyone who’s watched The Social Network might remember, was a site that ranked female students in an objectifying “hot or not” format. Which is to say this is still Zuckerberg’s world. Move within it carefully (or preferably not at all).