Facebook is trying to expand its fight against revenge porn on the platform with a pilot program that asks users to send naked photos of themselves so the platform can block said photos before someone else shares them. Facebook has been testing the system in Australia and is now extending the trial to the US, Britain and Canada.

In a public post, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, said that the platform was expanding its pilot program targeting the non-consensual sharing of images on the platform. Rather than having to report an image after it’s already been shared around Facebook (a system that is already present on Facebook), the platform will let users upload an image before it’s been seen by others.

Privacy much?

With the recent privacy-related scandals plaguing Facebook, users might be wary of sharing something so incredibly private with the platform. At a time when people are worried about Facebook scraping information from or tagging their everyday images the last thing they would be willing to do would be to share their nude images voluntarily.

In an attempt to tackle these concerns the social media giant is partnering with safety organisations across the four regions. These include the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US, YWCA Canada, the UK Revenge Porn Helpline and the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner. Users worried about intimate images being shared on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger can contact their relevant local organisation and submit a form. They’ll then receive a one-time-use link to upload the image.

Will Facebook see the nude images?

According to a BBC report, Davis said that photos will only be seen by “a very small group of about five specially trained reviewers”. They’ll give the photo a unique digital fingerprint – something called hashing. That code will then be stored in a database. If anyone else tries to upload the same photo, the code will be recognised and it’ll be blocked before it appears on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. The original photos will not be stored.

Revenge porn on Social Media

Last April, Facebook had added tools to report revenge porn and to prevent images from being shared once they have been banned. The move was prompted by a controversial incident involving a secret Facebook group of US and British marines, where nude images of servicewomen were being shared. The group which consisted of nearly 30,000 members was taken down in September 2016 and was back on the platform by March 2017. In some cases, the subjects in the images were identified by their names, ranks, duty stations, and branches.

Twitter, which is much more tolerant of pornographic content on its platform also banned images and videos from being shared without the subject’s consent in March 2015. Twitter had then updated its privacy policy to take down non-consensual nude photos as well as non-consensual videos of sexual acts. However, the company had said that it will not “curate” other pornographic content but will only take down specific images or videos as reported to violate its policies.