As you probably know, Facebook is constantly making changes to both their website and their policies.
Some of those changes are good, and some of them are bad (at least from the user’s point of view).
But every now and then they come up with one that leaves me not quite knowing what to think about it. A perfect case-in-point is a new anti-revenge porn initiative they’re currently testing.
Facebook recently started asking their Australian users to upload nude photos of themselves to their servers for “processing”.
In a nutshell, Facebook will analyze each photo and create a digital “hash” code to represent it. In other words, they’ll create a random-looking alpha-numeric code that represents the photo, then delete the photo from their servers.
That hash code will look something like this:
As you can see, there is nothing at all intimate or personal about the code.
Once the hash code has been created, that code is the only attribute of the photo that will be stored on Facebook’s servers. No human at Facebook will ever see the photo and the photo itself will not be retained.
Facebook’s stated reason for doing this is to (hopefully) prevent someone else from posting or sharing your nude photos without your consent. And unfortunately, that happens all the time, especially in cases of “revenge porn”.
This is how those uploaded, hashed and then deleted nude images are supposed to help you:
1 – You upload a nude photo of yourself to Facebook’s server.
2 – Facebook “hashes” the photo and then deletes it.
Note: Every copy of a given photo will result in the same hash code being created, but the hash code cannot be used to re-create the photo. It can only help Facebook recognize a copy of that photo when it’s uploaded.
3 – If someone tries to post your nude photo or send it to another Facebook user in a chat or instant message, Facebook will create the hash for the photo they’re trying to share and check to see if there’s a match for it in their database.
If a match exists (i.e. you have already uploaded that same photo for them to hash it), Facebook will recognize it as a photo you don’t want shared and refuse to send it in the message.
This will also prevent your personal photos from being shared in other ways on Facebook.
Sounds pretty good, right?
Well, consider this: If there are no nude photos to share they cannot be shared without your permission. I recommend that you take that into consideration before you agree to share a nudie with another person.
If you do know that someone else has one or more nude photos of you, I still don’t recommend uploading a copy of it to Facebook, for the following reasons:
1 – Facebook is nothing more than a website, and websites get hacked all the time. There’s really no way to guarantee that your uploaded photos cannot be stolen by a hacker before Facebook’s server has a chance to delete them.
2 – There are countless other ways for people to “share” someone else’s nude photos. In fact, there are numerous websites that exist for that sole purpose.
While this new anti-revenge porn initiative night help prevent your personal photos from being shared with others on Facebook, it won’t prevent them from being uploaded and shared on other websites or via email.
As mentioned earlier, this is only being tested in Australia at the moment, but I expect Facebook to roll it out to users in other countries before long.
Bottom line: While this sounds like a great idea in theory, I don’t recommend taking Facebook up on their invitation to send them your nude photos. Too many things can potentially go wrong when you upload something like that to an Internet server.
In my opinion, the best defense against revenge porn is to be extremely careful about sharing nude photos with another person in the first place. Even if you trust that person completely right now, that could easily change if your relationship ever turns sour.
Bonus tip: Read this post to find out why there’s no such thing as privacy on Facebook.
If you found this post useful, your friends might find it useful as well. I hope you’ll consider sharing it to help me spread the word. Thanks a bunch!