Facebook raised a lot of eyebrows late last year when it announced that it would introduce a new way to combat so-called “revenge porn” that asked people to upload nude photos of themselves to the company’s servers. At first, Facebook was only testing the tool in Australia, but it announced this week that it will roll out the pilot program to the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
The tool uses a kind of technology called “hashing” that acts as a kind of preemptive strike. So users can upload an image they fear could one day surface on the site without their consent, and Facebook can use the uploaded copy to stop it from being circulated on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. However, a team of human Facebook employees will review the photos to make sure they are in violation of the company’s rules, which is what led to the original controversy. But once the hashes are created for each image, Facebook deletes them no later than seven days afterward.
“From anxiety and depression to the loss of a personal relationship or a job, this violation of privacy can be devastating,” Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, wrote in a blog post announcing the expansion of the pilot program. “We look forward to learning from this pilot and further improving our tools for people in devastating situations like these.”
However, it remains to be seen if anyone will actually take Facebook up on this offer. It’s asking an unbelievable amount from people to trust the company with nude photos of themselves, especially in the wake of Facebook’s numerous data scandals.
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