Facebook asks users for nude photos

Facebook is piloting technology to combat revenge porn.
Facebook is piloting technology to combat revenge porn. Photo credit: Getty

Facebook is asking users to send in their nude photos in an attempt to fight the rise of revenge porn.

The company will 'hash' users' photos, converting each image into a unique digital 'fingerprint' so any attempts to re-upload the same image will be blocked.

The technology is designed for people worried about 'revenge porn', a form of sexual abuse in which explicit photos or videos of someone are shared online without their consent.

Typically done to embarrass former partners or to blackmail celebrities, revenge porn is an increasing concern after events like 2014's mass leak of nude celebrity photos.

According to a 2016 report from the Data & Society Research Institute, approximately 4 percent of American internet users have been victims of revenge porn.

This figure rises to 10 percent in women under 30.

Facebook hopes its photo hashing technology will give some control back to victim of this type of abuse.

The social media giant is piloting the technology in Australia, in partnership with a government agency.

Users will first have to complete an online form about their concerns. They will then send the relevant photos to themselves on Facebook Messenger.

Once the images have been sent, a community operations analyst will hash them.

Facebook will store the images for a short period of time before deleting them.

Hashing technology is already used by the site to tackle images of child sexual abuse and 'extremist imagery'.

It has also released reporting tools that allow users to flag photos uploaded without their consent, which will be hashed once they are removed from the site.

Sexual privacy lawyer Carrie Goldberg told the Guardian she is delighted with the company's efforts to shut down revenge porn.

"With its billions of users, Facebook is one place where many offenders aggress because they can maximize the harm by broadcasting the nonconsensual porn to those most close to the victim. 

"So this is impactful."


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