Facebook has announced that a new AI-powered tool will help the social network detect “non-consensually shared intimate images” – a.k.a. revenge porn.
This announcement comes after an earlier pilot of photo-matching technology, where volunteers submitted their own private photos to help the initiative. The program, which uses machine learning to detect nudity, was developed in partnership with victim advocacy campaigners. These groups include the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (U.S.), the Revenge Porn Helpline (U.K.), Digital Rights Foundation (Pakistan), and SaferNet (Brazil).
In basic terms, this new tool creates a ‘digital fingerprint’ which prevents the image from being shared across the company’s platforms. Although Facebook’s announcement didn’t go into a huge amount of depth about the system, they said that the technology will go beyond simply detecting nudity. However, a significant strength of the tool is that it doesn’t require the victim’s involvement. Facebook explained that this was an important feature, as many victims are afraid of the consequences of reporting incidents themselves. In other cases, they may be unaware their private photos are being shared.
Facebook acknowledged that revenge porn is an important issue, as it can lead to serious mental health problems like depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and even PTSD. It can also lead to serious consequences related to victim’s social and professional lives. For example, victims can lose their jobs or experience tension with friends. Furthermore, those from more conservative communities can be persecuted, shunned, or even physically harmed.
The social network is also working towards finding a way to give victims more support. They have said that alongside the new tool, they are evaluating how complaints are handled. This move comes after victims reported that automated messages and slow replies made them feel like Facebook didn’t care. In response, the company has said they are reviewing their procedure to ensure the process is “straightforward, clear and empathetic.” They are also launching Not Without My Consent, a victim-support hub developed in partnership with experts.
Revenge porn is one of a large number of issues that result from providing global sharing platforms. Today, Facebook is beginning to acknowledge some of the failures of social media, including issues around data privacy violations, fake news, and trolling.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently announced that the social network is working towards a “pivot to privacy”, where their products will be joined via an encrypted messaging network. However, the move has caused internal turmoil at the company, triggering the exit of a string of top executives.