Facebook wants your nude photos. What could possibly go wrong? Menon
Facebook, the company that can’t seem to control its own content, hopes we’ll trust it with our most intimate photos in brazen plan to combat “revenge porn.”
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If you’re scared your nude photos will end up on Facebook, the company has a daring new plan: go ahead and send your nude photos to Facebook.
In what is either technology at its most proactively brilliant or technology that is sure to end in tears and a class-action lawsuit — The Accidentally Scandalized Buck Naked v. Facebook Inc. — the social-media giant believes it has stumbled upon a nuclear weapon in the war on “revenge porn.”
Don’t be shy, because that weapon is your intimate snaps.
In a new pilot program that started in Australia this month — it’s also rolling out in Canada, the U.S. and the United Kingdom — Facebook users who fear a salacious image may go public can now outsmart an abuser by pre-emptively sending the image in question to themselves via Messenger and then flagging it as a non-consensual file.
That’s a mouthful of jargon. What does it mean exactly? Sadly, since I’ve never sexted, posed nude, starred in a sex video or even removed my shirt in daylight, I’m not really sure. But apparently, after you send a racy boudoir pic to Facebook and inform the faceless algorithm that nobody in the free world should ever see you doing whatever it is you’re doing, a photo-matching tool creates a “hash” of the image, meaning it uses metadata to create the equivalent of a digital fingerprint.
Translation: that picture of you frolicking in your birthday suit is now code.
Then if someone else attempts to share the same photo, as identified by the fingerprint match, Facebook will stop the upload and you can either: a) breathe a sigh of relief, or b) continue to live in paralyzing fear the treacherous scumbag ends up posting the image somewhere else on the Internet.
So what we have here is a potential solution to the problem of revenge porn that sounds as counterintuitive as thwarting a burglary by leaving the front door open: “Facebook, here’s an indecent image I sent my boyfriend when he was away in Hong Kong on business. But since we had an insanely messy breakup soon after — I discovered he was cheating on me with my best friend by unlocking his new iPhone X using the facial recognition feature after he fell asleep — I fear he may try to get back at me by sharing this picture. Please don’t let that happen.”
The question is: should Facebook be trusted with your nude photos?
In recent years, let’s see, the company has helped spread fake news. It has accepted ads from foreign governments eager to disrupt Western democracy. It has admitted millions of accounts are not real. Without Facebook, it’s entirely possible Donald Trump is now rage-tweeting as the guy who lost the U.S. election last year. Without Facebook, the world is far less divided and way less chaotic.
Even though the company says it will not store any actual nude images —it will just access the digital fingerprints — why would anyone trust any tech company at a time when hacking is an epidemic and nothing ever seems to truly vanish on the Internet? There is no such thing as “delete.” There is only “harder to find.”
In this context, the voluntary surrender of your nude photos to Facebook seems about as misguided and potentially damaging as sending your child to school with a carton of smokes to share at recess.
Then there is the issue of human error. If you felt mortified last time you goofed in the office and sent out an embarrassing reply-all, imagine the horror you will feel after accidentally sending a naked picture to your book club: “Guys, so sorry! I meant to send that to myself. Please delete and don’t ask. I was super drunk. Looking forward to discussing The Swallow and The Hummingbird next week!”
You don’t need to be Blac Chyna or Jennifer Lawrence to understand the problem of revenge porn. We are living in a sick age, an era in which ex-lovers or unknown hackers can share and spread images that were supposed to be private.
This is a gross violation. This is beyond gross.
So while Facebook deserves credit for trying to combat the scourge of revenge porn, we should also remember it has inadvertently served as a global platform for the explosion of revenge porn. There are times when Facebook does not seem to understand the mechanics of Facebook. There are times when Facebook seems unable to control what happens on Facebook.
In short: Facebook has created a monster called Facebook.
That’s something to keep in mind before you start feeding the beast your most intimate moments.