Facebook is asking users to voluntarily provide nude photos of themselves, insisting that it’s for your own protection. The social media giant says it will use the images to help combat “revenge porn,” as Facebook can use the provided photos and image-matching technology to ensure the images aren’t posted by someone else.
As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Facebook asserts that it won’t actually store the photos themselves. Instead, it will create a digital footprint designed to prevent copies of the image from being uploaded to the social media platform.
However, to do so, users must first provide the original image to the company, which may not be entirely secure.
Lesley Carhart, a digital forensics expert, claims that simply deleting the photograph after the digital footprint is generated isn’t as simple as it sounds.
“Yes, they’re not storing a copy, but the image is still being transmitted and processed, leaving forensic evidence in memory and potentially on disk,” said Carhart.
“My specialty is digital forensics, and I literally recover deleted images from computer systems all day – off disk and out of system memory. It’s not trivial to destroy all trace of files, including metadata and thumbnails.”
The Facebook venture is being piloted in Australia as part of a partnership between the social media site and the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner. After that, the technology will be tested in Britain, Canada, and the United States.
Speaking about the process, Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety commissioner, stated, “It would be like sending yourself your image in email, but obviously this is a much safer, secure end-to-end way of sending the image without sending it through the ether.”
He continued, “They’re not storing the image. They’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies.”
New York-based lawyer Carrie Goldberg, who specializes in sexual privacy, said she is “delighted” by Facebook’s efforts and believes it can help fight revenge porn on the platform.
“With its billions of users, Facebook is one place where many offenders aggress because they can maximize the harm by broadcasting the nonconsensual porn to those most close to the victim,” said Goldberg. “So, this is impactful.”
In the US, four percent of internet users have claimed to be victims of revenge porn, and 10 percent of women under the age of 30 have reportedly been threatened by someone who said they would post explicit photos of them without their consent.
Facebook previously announced a system in April that used image-matching technology to prevent the reposting of images that were previously reported and removed from the site. This project is considered an advancement of that technology but does require users to willing submit photos for it to work as a preventative measure.