There are many creepy scams on Facebook, but one of the most unsettling is the phenomenon of imposter profiles. This happens when a con artist or cybercriminal steals an innocent user’s profile picture and uses it either to impersonate them or create an entirely fictional profile to scam other users. However, Facebook announced a new feature this week that could help eliminate the problem.
This new “photo guard” tool, which for now is being rolled out as a pilot program in India only, will help users protect their own profile photo. The decision to test it in India is the result of research by Facebook that found many women in the country don’t share their photos online for fear of what could be done with them.
“Today, we are piloting new tools that give people in India more control over who can download and share their profile pictures,” Facebook said in its announcement blog post. “In addition, we’re exploring ways people can more easily add designs to profile pictures, which our research has shown helpful in deterring misuse.”
The guard will add design elements to photos to dissuade others from stealing them, as well as preventing screenshots from being taken and other people from being tagged in the pic. When activated, the feature will also show a blue border and an artfully-designed shield around a user’s photo.
Facebook claims in the post that by using these new photo protections, the rate of theft can be reduced by 75%. Always keep in mind that determined bullies and criminals can often find ways to circumvent tools like this. These deterrents can’t provide 100% protection.
It’s unclear how long this feature will be tested in India before being rolled out further, but let’s hope it expands soon — the more ways we users have to protect our own privacy, the better.