Australians Urged to Send Facebook Intimate Images before They Can be Shared in Revenge


There are a number of reasons that some of your more-intimate snaps, should you choose to take them, may fall into nefarious hands; maybe your phone was stolen or hacked, or perhaps you’re worried in the aftermath of a bitter breakup. In these situations the biggest fear is that those pictures may be shared on online platforms, be that publicly or privately, bringing untold misery, humiliation and embarrassment upon the subject.

You would hope that this would be a rare occurrence if it indeed happened at all, but current figures and recent headlines both tell a very different story. This fact has not escaped the notice of Australian e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant, who told ABC, “We see many scenarios where maybe photos or videos were taken consensually at one point, but there was not any sort of consent to send the images or videos more broadly.”

According to Ms Inman Grant, one-in-five Australian women aged 18-45 and one-in-four Indigenous Australians are victims of such abuse.

Now in an effort to prevent such private images from being shared online in an act of what has become known as ‘revenge-porn’, the Australian Government’s e-Safety Department is partnering with Facebook to launch an initiative whereby users who may be worried about their intimate photos being shared online can contact the e-Safety Commissioner, who may then make the rather unexpected suggestion that they act pre-emptively and send the images to themselves via Messenger.
While it may seem counter-intuitive to upload private photos to an online social media platform in an effort to stop them being spread on, well, an online social media platform (in many cases the same exact one), there is a little more sense behind the idea than it may first appear.

“It would be like sending yourself your image in email, but obviously this is a much safer, secure end-to-end way of sending the image without sending it through the ether,” Ms Inman Grant explained.

Once received, the image will then be “hashed” by Facebook and converted into a code or digital fingerprint, while the photo itself is not saved. If another user subsequently tries to upload the same image Facebook’s algorithms will recognise the digital fingerprint and not allow it to be posted, so you can proceed without worry that your privacy may be violated on the platform.

“They’re not storing the image; they’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies,” clarified Ms Inman Grant. “So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded.”

Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety at Facebook, told ABC that Australia is in fact one of four countries participating in the “industry-first” program, which utilises “cutting-edge technology” in an effort to prevent the re-sharing of images on its platforms.

“The safety and wellbeing of the Facebook community is our top priority,” concluded Ms Davis.

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