Fighting Revenge Porn: Facebook Joins the Fray

Fagjun | Published 2017-04-07 04:09

Sharing revenge porn on Facebook is going to be a lot harder.
[Photo by Hannah Wei]

Facebook has developed a series of new photo-matching technology that can contribute to efforts in fighting revenge porn.

Revenge porn is when an individual posts a nude, compromising, or intimate photo or video of someone else on the Internet. The sharing of these images or videos is often without the consent of the party in the images or videos. The sharer often means to cause emotional distress or destroy someone's reputation by posting the content, hence the name “revenge porn”.

Revenge porn can be incredibly distressing and can impact the victim's entire life. Thus, there have been many efforts to make sure that revenge porn doesn't spread through the Internet. Of course, efforts like these are often fruitless. As the old adage goes, once it's on the Internet, it lives forever.

That doesn't mean, however, that steps can't be taken to fight revenge porn. For one thing, revenge porn isn't very effective unless it can be shared. Facebook, as a large social media site, is often a platform for sharing revenge porn.

Now it can also be a platform for fighting revenge porn.

Photo-Matching

Facebook announced that users will now be able to flag images that qualify as revenge porn and were posted without consent. Facebook's “specially trained representatives” will then assess the images and determine if they violate Facebook's community standards.

As all Facebook users know, even if the site removes one photo, someone else can simply post it again. In fact, in one case, reporting an intimate photo that someone else posted without consent was fruitless. In this case, people repeatedly shared an intimate photo of a 14-year-old girl on a Facebook page. The photo would get reported to Facebook, which would then get removed. However, that didn't stop people from posting the image again and again after removal.

To address problems like this, Facebook will also use photo-matching technologies to make sure that no one will be able to share the same image on the site again. Furthermore, Facebook can also deactivate accounts that share such images.

This new development may be a boon to many victims of revenge porn. It can also save other individuals from becoming victims as well in the future. Though Facebook is often a platform that people use to bully and spew online abuse, it is gradually taking steps to make sure all its users feel safe on the site.

Fighting Revenge Porn Entails Big Changes

However, there is still a problem. These new tools can stop the spread of revenge porn, but it can't stop people from posting it in the first place. Unfortunately, stopping people from disseminating intimate images without consent will need more work. Facebook's new features, however, may stem the spread of these images.

Fighting revenge porn isn't easy. For one thing, certain laws on sexual offenses need to be changed or modified. These laws need to extend the same anonymity to victims of revenge porn as they do to other victims of sexual offenses. This way, if the victims remain anonymous, people won't seek out and share the illicit images even more widely.

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