5 Things We Know, Don’t Know About Facebook’s ‘Revenge Porn’ Pilot Program

Facebook launched its Non-Consensual Image Pilot Program in the United States in May to combat the sharing of nude photos on the social media platform. While Facebook already removes revenge porn after it receives a report, people who fear that someone might try to hurt them can proactively upload their intimate images, so Facebook can block anyone else from sharing the images on its site, Instagram or Messenger. “It’s demeaning and devastating when someone’s intimate images are shared without their permission,” wrote Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, in a post. “We want to do everything we can to help victims of this abuse.”

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Facebook launched its Non-Consensual Image Pilot Program in the United States in May to combat the sharing of nude photos on the social media platform. While Facebook already removes revenge porn after it receives a report, people who fear that someone might try to hurt them can proactively upload their intimate images, so Facebook can block anyone else from sharing the images on its site, Instagram or Messenger. “It’s demeaning and devastating when someone’s intimate images are shared without their permission,” wrote Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, in a post. “We want to do everything we can to help victims of this abuse.”
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1. Facebook partnered with safety organizations, including the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and the National Network to End Domestic Violence in the U.S.
n-People who want to proactively submit their intimate photos to Facebook should first contact one of the safety organizations to obtain a form. Once the form has been filed, Facebook will send a one-time, encrypted link to the person to upload the images they are concerned about. The safety organizations will not have access to view the photos.
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2. Facebook is using “hash” technology to block the intimate images.
n-Once a person uploads their intimate images via a one-time, encrypted link, a “small group of full-time employees” will view the photos and create a digital fingerprint for each image, called a “hash.” When someone tries to maliciously upload the nonconsensual porn, Facebook will immediately recognize the “hash” and sharing will be blocked. Only the hashes of the images are stored on Facebook’s servers. The images are destroyed within seven days.
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3. Facebook’s “hash” technology is not fool-proof.
n-The hash only works with the original image. For example, if a victim proactively uploads a photo but someone maliciously crops or adds a filter to that image, Facebook’s technology will not catch it. Privacy experts said this is a massive flaw with the pilot program.n“This technology can be evaded by cropping a photo or even changing the colors in the background,” said Lori Andrews, a professor at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. “You have to give up so much privacy to get privacy, and that doesn’t seem like a fair balance.”nFacebook’s response: “There are always bad actors, and while the technology is not 100 percent, we’re constantly working to improve the technology and looking for ways to root out recidivist behavior.”
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4. It’s unclear what security and privacy measures are in place to safeguard images that are uploaded to Facebook.
n-Facebook said “a small group of full-time employees” will be viewing the intimate images that are uploaded in order to create a hash. Facebook said this group is trained to work on safety-related issues. NBC 5 Investigates asked what privacy measures are in place to keep accountable employees who will be reviewing the images. Facebook did not directly respond to this question.n-Facebook said the images will be temporarily stored on a server and then destroyed within seven days. NBC 5 Investigates asked what security measures are in place to safekeep these servers. Facebook did not directly respond to this question.
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5. It’s unclear if this program is working.
n-The Non-Consensual Image Pilot Program first launched in late 2017 in Australia before beginning in the U.S., UK and Canada. Similar to the program in the United States, people were encouraged to reach out to Facebook’s partner safety group, the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner. We asked Facebook if the pilot has been successful and how many people have reached out wanting to submit their photos. Facebook declined to comment.
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