To preempt revenge porn in Australia, and now in the U.S., UK and Canada, you may be asked to upload intimate photos of yourself to Facebook in a pilot program which claims to keep you safe.
The pilot program was first introduced to Australia last November to combat revenge porn, also known as nonconsexual pornography which refers to the distribution of sensitive (intimate, nude or sexual) images to the internet to attack the person shown in them.
Despite the social network company being under the scrutiny of its decision-making, the anti-revenge porn program is expanding to the US, UK and Canada, only with a slight revision addressing the concerns for data security.
While it seems counter-intuitive to many, the catch is that the company asks its users to upload any pictures they think might be used against their safety and privacy. The pictures will be shared safely and reviewed by a "small team"- according to a Facebook spokesperson, and assigned with a digital footprint which will check against any pictures shared on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. If they match, then the pictures won't be able to be shared.
Users would have to upload the images to Messenger in the past. They will be sent a "secure email address" to do that. And in order to begin the process, they will obtain an online form requesting to submit their sensitive images from Facebook's partners such as the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner, The U.S. National Network to End Domestic Violence, Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and so on.
Although it is still being tested in the new three countries, the pilot program has faced criticism from cybersecurity experts about sharing such data to a third-party, especially in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which over 87 million Facebook users' personal data was hijacked.
Nonetheless, the expansion was "encouraged by feedback from security, privacy and women's safety experts in Australia”, told by a Facebook spokesperson to Quartz.
Online harassment for both women and men, especially on social media remains a hugely prevalent problem in Australia, UK and the U.S.. The statistics around more serious threats are also startling.
For example, a 2017 Survey from the Pew Research Center showed roughly four-in-ten Americans have personally experienced online harassment in various forms. A 2017 research from the Amnesty International UK revealed more than a quarter of British women experiencing online abuse and harassment receive threats of physical or sexual assault.
Last year, a comprehensive study on revenge porn by RMIT and Monash University in Australia said one in five Australians have fallen victim to "image-based" abuse, and the rate of victimization is higher for marginalized groups including young people, LGBTQ, the disabled and indigenous.