TECH

Facebook To Combat Revenge Porn With New 'Photo-Matching' Tools

'We hope that this will inspire other social media companies to take similar action'

05/04/2017 14:00 BST

Facebook has today unveiled a powerful new range of tools designed to help prevent the non-consensual sharing of intimate images on Facebook, a malicious act often referred to as “revenge porn”.

Included in those tools are new ‘photo-matching’ technologies that will allow Facebook’s systems to automatically detect when a person tries to upload an already-reported image or video onto any of their platforms. 

Facebook

Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety at Facebook today revealed how the company will work to prevent revenge porn from being shared on its platforms.

Once a person sees an image or video that they believe was shared without their permission they can report that photo.

Trained representatives from Facebook’s Community Operations team will then review the image and if it does violate the site’s Community Standards the image/video will be taken down and the user who posted it will have their account suspended.

This is where the new tools come into play. If a person then tries to upload it again onto Facebook, Messenger or Instagram a new photo-matching technology will recognise the image and prevent that person from uploading it. Facebook then notifies that user that what they’re trying to upload violates its policies.

On the 13 April 2015, the UK government officially made revenge porn illegal.

A clause in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill specifically forbids “Disclosing private sexual photographs and films with intent to cause distress”. It carries a maximum jail sentence of two years - up from six months under other laws previously used to prosecute revenge porn offenders.

Despite this, the sharing of revenge porn continues both online and through social networks.

WHAT IS REVENGE PORN?

The Crown Prosecution Service defines revenge pornography as “typically sexually explicit media that is publicly shared online without the consent of the pictured individual and is usually uploaded by ex-partners.”

It adds that the images are often “accompanied by personal information including the pictured individual’s full name, links to social media profiles and address, and are shared with the intent to cause distress or harm to the individual.”

Laura Higgins, Founder of The Revenge Porn Helpline, UK has welcomed the new tools.

“We are delighted with the announcement made by Facebook today, This new process will provide reassurance for many victims of image based sexual abuse, and dramatically reduce the amount of harmful content on the platform. We hope that this will inspire other social media companies to take similar action and that together we can make the online environment hostile to abuse.”

Davis says that her team worked closely with organisations like the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Center for Social Research, the Revenge Porn Helpline (UK) and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative throughout the development process.

As well as working across all of Facebook’s products, Davis said she looked forward to “building on these tools and working with other companies to explore how they could be used across the industry.”