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Tech

Facebook clamps down on spread of ‘revenge porn’ with photo matching tools

Nick Duffy April 5, 2017

Facebook has launched a new photo matching tool to clamp down on the spread of sexual pictures without consent.

The social media giant’s founder Mark Zuckerberg has previously vowed to bolster tools to clamp down on hate speech and abuse on the platform.

Today, Facebook launched a new system to clamp down ‘revenge porn’, which is is the act of publishing private sexual images of other people without consent.

Social media is often exploited by ‘revenge porn’ offenders, with the intent of directly humiliating the victim in front of their friends and family.

A recent study found the issue disproportionately impacts upon LGB people. 17% of lesbian, gay or bisexual individuals have been affected by the non-consensual sharing of intimate photos online, compared to just 2% of heterosexuals..

In a blog, Facebook’s Head of Global Safety Antigone Davis explained that new ‘photo matching’ software will help clamp down on the sharing of known revenge porn pictures – even in private Facebook Messenger conversations.

She explained: “If you see an intimate image on Facebook that looks like it was shared without permission, you can report it by using the “Report” link.

“Specially trained representatives… review the image and remove it if it violates our Community Standards. In most cases, we will also disable the account for sharing intimate images without permission. We offer an appeals process if someone believes an image was taken down in error.

“In most cases, we will also disable the account for sharing intimate images without permission. We offer an appeals process if someone believes an image was taken down in error.

“We then use photo-matching technologies to help thwart further attempts to share the image on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram. If someone tries to share the image after it’s been reported and removed, we will alert them that it violates our policies and that we have stopped their attempt to share it.

“We also partner with safety organisations to offer resources and support to the victims of this behaviour.”

Laura Higgins, Founder of The Revenge Porn Helpline, said: “We are delighted with the announcement made by Facebook today.

“This new process will provide reassurance for many victims of image based sexual abuse, and dramatically reduce the amount of harmful content on the platform.

“We hope that this will inspire other social media companies to take similar action and that together we can make the online environment hostile to abuse.”

Though it was criminalised in the UK in 2015, other countries are lagging behind on legislation to ban the practice, which has boomed since smartphone cameras and social media became common.

LGB people are more than four times as likely to become victims of revenge porn.

The prevalence of hook-up apps in the gay community may be a factor in the disproportionate impact on LGB people, as well as pre-existing issues relating to ‘outing’ people who are in the closet.

If you have been a victim of revenge porn and want to seek advice, call the UK helpline on 0345 6000 459.

 

More: Facebook, tech, technology, US

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