Facebook Announces New Efforts To Help Teens Avoid Sextortion Scams

Last month, a lawmaker in South Carolina brought a devastating lawsuit against Facebook after his son fell victim to a sextortion scam and committed suicide. These scams, which involve a criminal obtaining nude photos of an individual and blackmailing them for money or more pictures, have been particularly targeted at teens. And while it could be a coincidence, Facebook seems to have responded to this suit this week by expanding its efforts at helping teens avoid these horrible scams.

Facebook previously partnered with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) to create a tool called Take it Down, which helps young people privately and securely tag their intimate images with a unique hash that will result in the image being removed if it’s ever reposted. And while this tool was previously only available in English and Spanish, Facebook says it will now roll it out to many more countries and in many more languages.

“Making Take it Down available in 25 languages is a pivotal step towards safeguarding children from the horrors of online exploitation all over the world,” said John Shehan, a Senior Vice President with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. “We aspire to ensure that every child, regardless of language or location, has the opportunity to reclaim their dignity and privacy by having their illicit content removed from participating platforms.”

In addition to expanding this feature, Facebook also said it will introduce new resources on its site to help parents and teens deal with this crisis if it happens to them.

This feature probably won’t save Facebook from the many lawsuits it’s facing, but at least it shows the company is willing to step up and protect its most vulnerable users.

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