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Facebook Has An Incredibly Bizarre Way To Handle Revenge Porn

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Would you trust Zuckerberg et al. with your naked pics? Facebook is embarking on a program to combat revenge porn. The catch – it requires you to send in your intimate photos before your conniving ex has the chance to upload them.

What could go wrong?

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Facebook has been trialing the technology in Australia (although the program reportedly remained grounded for months for reasons unknown) and is now extending the program to its users in the UK, US, and Canada. The news was announced on Tuesday in a post from Antigone Davis, the company's Global Head of Safety. 

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So, how does the process work? Users interested in this new service will first have to contact one of Facebook's partners. That is Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US, the Revenge Porn Helpline in the UK, YWCA in Canada, and the Office of the eSafety Commissioner in Australia. Their staff will speak to the people at Facebook and users will be sent a link that allows them to upload the photo. 

Reviewers employed by the social media giant embed a unique digital fingerprint (called a hash) onto the photo, which will be kept on a database. This means if someone ever attempts to upload the image to Facebook or one of its sister sites (Instagram and Messenger), it will be instantly flagged and blocked before anyone gets the chance to see it.  

Now you might be wondering how many people at Facebook would actually get to see those photos? According to Newsbeat, Facebook's Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis assures images will only be seen by "a very small group of about five specially trained reviewers." Once it has been hashed, the original picture will be deleted.

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Considering the company's history of data leakage, you would be forgiven for being skeptical over Facebook's ability to keep its users' photos secure – or even delete the images it receives. What's more, Davis has even admitted the technology isn't foolproof. It is easy enough to manipulate pictures so that they are different to the original and a quick edit in Photoshop may be all it takes to wrangle a way around the system. 

Facebook has already announced its plans to help set its users on the path of love with its launch of a new dating service – its only right it protects its users when things turn foul. But is this new system really going to help tackle the flood of revenge pornography and “sextortion” the social media site receives every month or is this just more user data waiting to be leaked?


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