Facebook Wants You to Send Them Your Nudes

In order to protect them.

Facebook has introduced a new revenge porn defence strategy: send them your explicit photos before someone else does. Sounds a little counterintuitive, right? Here’s how it works.

First, send yourself a nude via Facebook Messenger. Then, flag it as a “non-consensual intimate image.” The social network will now create a “hash” of the image, which is essentially a fingerprint for the file. Every time a user uploads a photo to Facebook or Instagram, it will be tested against existing hashes. If a hash has been flagged, users will not be allowed to distribute it. And voila! Non-consensual photo sharing is now a problem of the past.

LOL just kidding. The idea for Facebook’s pre-emptive revenge porn prevention tool comes from a good place — and it is important to put measures in place to tackle this toxic crime — but Twitter users are already pointing out that this might not be the best solution. Who’s reviewing these images to make sure they come from the right person? Can’t someone abuse this feature to censor other images? Is Facebook seriously going to catalogue everyone’s NSFW photographs?

To those assuming Facebook is keeping a gallery of nudes in the cloud, ready to be hacked, don’t worry: Facebook won’t be storing the actual images, they’ll be storing hashes and using artificial intelligence and stuff. Still, that doesn’t stop the system from backfiring, says digital forensics expert Lesley Carhart.

“Yes, they’re not storing a copy, but the image is still being transmitted and processed. Leaving forensic evidence in memory and potentially on disk,” Carhart told Motherboard. “My specialty is digital forensics and I literally recover deleted images from computer systems all day — off disk and out of system memory. It’s not trivial to destroy all trace of files, including metadata and thumbnails.”

And on the other hand, is this really the best way to combat revenge porn? It’s definitely a step forward from telling people not to send nudes at all. If a woman (or man!) wants to take a naked photos of themselves, that’s totally their prerogative. Facebook’s tool lets us take preventative measures to protect ourselves from bad people, but it’s not attacking the real issue: bad people. The problem starts and ends with the perpetrators of revenge porn, and ensuring that those who leak nudes are criminally charged. Because no matter how cool Facebook’s new feature is, it won’t stop non-consensual images from being shared everywhere else on the Internet.