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Facebook Asks Users from Around the World To Upload Their Nude Pics To Stop Revenge Porn

Buzzfeed recently reported that Facebook will be testing a new preemptive method for blocking the unauthorized distribution of nude photos (AKA “revenge porn”) on the site with—hopefully—the...

Buzzfeed recently reported that Facebook will be testing a new preemptive method for blocking the unauthorized distribution of nude photos (AKA “revenge porn”) on the site with—hopefully—the help of the giant social platform’s users. First piloted in Australia, the program will now roll out in Canada, the UK, and the US.

According to Buzzfeed and a recent Facebook post by Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, the program is aimed at protecting not just already existing victims of revenge porn, but also potential ones.

Related: Studies Reveal Revenge Porn Survivors Suffer Similar Trauma As Sexual Assault Survivors

According to Forbes, the test program would allow users who are worried their private photos might be shared on the site to upload such photos to Messenger, and algorithmically assess-and-tag or “hash” their content for future reference. According to the plan, Facebook’s photo and face-matching algorithms would then be on the lookout for those photos should they appear elsewhere on the platform.

If you think this sounds crazy, you’re not alone.

Using Hashes to Fight Revenge Porn

Facebook is planning to use hashes of nude images, just like law enforcement uses hashes of known child abuse imagery. Here’s what Davis’ post said:

– Anyone who fears an intimate image of them may be [shared] publicly can contact one of our partners to submit a form
– After submitting the form, the victim receives an email containing a secure, one-time upload link
– The victim can use the link to upload images they fear will be shared
– One of a handful of specifically trained members of our Community Operations Safety Team will review the report and create a unique fingerprint, or hash, that allows us to identify future uploads of the images without keeping copies of them on our servers
– Once we create these hashes, we notify the victim via email and delete the images from our servers — no later than seven days
– We store the hashes so any time someone tries to upload an image with the same fingerprint, we can block it from appearing on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger

Related: 14-Year-Old Girl Sues Facebook For Failing To Remove Revenge Porn

What’s a hash, again? It isn’t only a breakfast food.

To bring you up to speed, a hash is created by feeding a photo into a “hashing function.” What comes out the other side is a unique digital fingerprint that looks like a jumble of letters and numbers. And the best part is you can’t turn the “hash” back into the photo, but the same photo, or identical copies of it, will always create the same hash. Pretty cool, right?

So, a hash of someone’s most private photo is no more revealing than this:

48008908c31b9c8f8ba6bf2a4a283f29c15309b1

Naked Security, a cybersecurity news site, reports that sending photos via Messenger would be enough to enable Facebook to take action to prevent any re-uploads, without the photo being stored or viewed by multiple employees. Facebook has explained, though, that a “specially-trained representative” from the social network’s Community Operations team would review the image before “hashing” it.

Related: Revenge Porn: Is It A New Form Of Digital Sex Slavery?

So, for now, the only way for victims of revenge porn to get their images off of the social media platform is to report the already-posted photo. And once the images are reported, Facebook’s team uses hashes to prevent any from being re-shared, but in a lot of cases, the damage is already done.

There Are No Isolated Incidents

If you think this isn’t a big enough issue to take the effort and create new technology and methods to prevent, think again.

RelatedLeah’s Story: From Revenge Porn Victim To Powerful Advocate

The massive rise of revenge porn incidents highlights a troubling trend—a growing demand for “real” images from real people (even and especially when they’re underage), and complete and total disregard for privacy and trust in the name of shares and “likes.”

The saddest part is that, even when victims feel ashamed, scared, and alone, there are tons of other people who have experienced the exact same thing. It’s been estimated that there are over 2,000 revenge porn sites on the internet, all of which receive enough traffic to continue existing, even despite the laws that prosecute people who post revenge porn. The fact is, supply follows demand. And we need to do our part to stop the demand.

We’ve all heard a million times that “sex sells,” but apparently so does humiliation and objectification.

Dignity Is Dignity

We often speak about the serious dangers of sexting but let the crucial message of consent permeate your conversations about the issue of revenge porn. Whether any revenge porn victim “should have” sent someone a private photo, the simple fact is that thousands of people violate the law every day and publicly upload photos or videos that are considered revenge porn, and that’s not acceptable.

RelatedPressing Send: Why Sexting Can Actually Be A Really Bad Idea

This is an issue that can ruin lives and stunt the success of countless people in our generation, and we should care about stopping it. When in doubt of the real horrors of revenge porn, just remember the story of the Italian woman who eventually committed suicide after a sex tape became public, or the story of revenge-porn-victim-turned-advocate Leah Nicole, who was the victim of revenge porn when she was just 14, or the other 14-year-old who was victimized by someone posting explicit photos of her on Facebook.

It can happen to anyone, but not if we actively fight to raise awareness on the realities of revenge porn and the dangers of publicly uploading images.

Let’s Work Together

We can do better. Each one of these acts is horrifying and tragic, and each one could have been avoided if we, as a society, are educated on the dangers of sexting and put more emphasis on teaching people that exploitation is never never never okay.

RelatedUK Schools Might Start Teaching About The Harms Of Porn & Sexting

Let’s remember that this is fundamentally about consent, sexual exploitation, and treating people like people, not objects. Fight the fight against all porn, including the humiliation of victims through cyberbullying and revenge porn. Join us in fighting for love and fighting for healthy relationships, instead.