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Dublin: 5 °C Sunday 16 December, 2018

Facebook are asking users to upload their nudes to protect them from being used as revenge porn

They’re beginning to test this out in Australia.

Snapchat Source: DPA/PA Images

DO YOU REALLY trust the websites that you visit every day? Or the people who keep them running?

Social media can be an absolute cesspit. We’ve all stumbled across things on Facebook that have made us think “How on earth has that not been taken down yet?” We’ve all seen the way that Twitter allows actual Nazis to communicate and organise.

Few of us have much faith in the process of reporting abuse on either of these platforms. Many of us feel slightly panicked if we think for too long about how much of our information these websites can access.

Instagram Source: DPA/PA Images

People have, for quite a while, been suspicious that Google and social media sites are tracking their “utterances“ for advertising services. For example, some people insist that they’ve had conversations with friends about obscure topics that they have never googled or searched for.A little while later, they’ll see ads relating to that very obscure topic.

Google categorically denied using utterances and Facebook told BBC last year that they do not share microphone data with third parties without consent.

Facebook office in Berlin Source: DPA/PA Images

Then you’ve got the whole ‘iPhone brassiere’ situation too.

Chrissy Teigen brought major attention to the fact that the iPhone is able to categorise a lot of our photographs. If you go into photos you can search for random harmless stuff like ‘dogs’, ‘pizza’, ‘cocktails’ and ‘beaches’ and you’ll be presented with an album of each of these things.  There are loads of categories, including nudes (but only if they feature boobs).

You can read all about that here, and then go search ‘dogs’ in your photos to calm your nerves.

So with all of that in mind, would you allow Facebook to access your nudes, even if it was for a supposedly good reason?

Facebook office in Berlin Source: DPA/PA Images

Facebook are trialling a new strategy to combat revenge porn. It’s currently only operative in Australia, but could go international if they find that it works.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation explained how it works:

If you’re worried your intimate photos will end up on Instagram or Facebook, you can get in contact with the e-Safety Commissioner. They might then tell you to send the images to yourself on Messenger.
Once the image is sent via Messenger [...] Facebook would use technology to “hash” it, which means creating a digital fingerprint or link. They’re not storing the image, they’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies.

If somebody attempts to upload the same image after a hash has been built for it, it won’t work.

If the program goes according to plan, the photo will never show up on Facebook, even if a hacker or your ex tries to upload it.

Motherboard got in touch with Facebook and found out that these images will be stored on the website for an unknown period of time and will be accessible to a “small group of people”

Facebook is likely having human reviewers be part of the process in order to prevent legitimate images from being inadvertently tagged as revenge porn.

So in summary, you can send Facebook your nudes, some of their workers will be able to access them and the photos will be unusable on Instagram or Facebook.

There are some major flaws in this – if someone hacked your Facebook, they’d have access to the nudes that you sent yourself on Facebook Messenger unless you remembered to delete them immediately afterwards.  These photos will still upload on any websites other than Facebook or Instagram without any complications.

The final flaw, which is extremely unlikely (but worth noting, considering last week’s events) is that one single Facebook employee could go a little bit mad on their last day and do something stupid.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t really fancy seeing Donald Trump’s nudes.

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About the author:

Kelly Earley

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