Would you send Facebook your nudes to prevent them being shared online as revenge porn by a jilted lover? This is Facebook’s suggested way of giving victims back their power.
What is revenge porn?
If you’re not familiar with the term ‘revenge porn’, it’s when sexually explicit or provocative images are shared without the permission of one party (often an ex-partner) in order to ruin their reputation.
According to CNN, Facebook launched their controversial pilot program in Australia in November 2017, but are now slowly rolling out the revised process to other countries, namely the UK, US and Canada.
So how exactly does it work?
Well, the trial is basically a pre-emptive strike against anyone posting your nudes on social media.
How? You send your nudes to Facebook first, where they will give the photo a unique digital fingerprint in a process called hashing. The code is then stored on a database and anyone trying to upload the same photo will be blocked before it can be shared.
Facebook's global head of safety Antigone Davis told BBC’s Newsbeat that the photos will only be seen by "a very small group of about five specially trained reviewers"; and the original photos will be discarded.
The program originally ran in Australia where one in five Australians between the ages of 16 and 49 are affected by revenge porn according to a recent study.
READ MORE: How to protect yourself against revenge porn
Facebook has declined to share the numbers from their program in Australia, but a spokesperson told WGNO that they were encouraged by the feedback they received from safety experts and partners.
In South Africa, there are no stats available on how many people are affected by this social media warfare, or how often it happens, but last year it looked like victims could have some ammo in the form of legal recourse with the new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, according to HuffPost SA.
But Facebook’s program is not perfect. While it’s intended to be an emergency option for those who are afraid that their intimate photos will be shared online, the process to do so is quite convoluted. Vox says users first have to fill in a form with one of Facebook’s partner networks in each of the four pilot countries.
Then a link is emailed to you where you upload the image to Facebook using an encrypted link. This is when at least one human gets to set their eyes on your nudes. And even though the image isn’t kept, it takes about a week for this process to be completed - and the process is like this for each and every photo submitted.
READ MORE: Keep your sext life safe
And while it’s meant to prevent embarrassment and an invasion of privacy, the process itself is already invasive as you’re sending your pictures to someone you don’t know to view them. Also, Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal is evidence that the company isn’t so great with storing user data, so should we really trust them with our nudes?
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