revenge porn on Facebook

Facebook has made it easier for users to crack down on “revenge porn” a term coined to describe the practice of sharing private pictures of a person online without their permission. This can disrupt the life of victims emotionally and psychologically. The victims who already feel distressed and pained may find it difficult to hold a job or maintain a relationship, possibly making them consider suicide. For this reason, Facebook now has strict guidelines on how victims can get such intimate content removed.

The company revealed that it’ll use a variety of measures to put a stop to revenge porn across its online properties, including Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. With the new tool, users of the social network can automatically prevent the images from being shared again once they have been banned.

In other words, as from the time of its announcement, which was in 2017, users of the world’s largest social network should see an option to report a picture as inappropriate specifically because it is a “nude photo of me”.

According to the company, Revenge porn refers to the sharing of sexually explicit images on the internet, without the consent of the people depicted in the pictures, in order to extort or humiliate them. The practice disproportionately affects women, who are sometimes targeted by former partners. The offence covers sharing private sexual materials, photos, videos showing people engaged in sexual activity that would usually not be done in the public eye. It could also be genitals, breasts or buttocks exposed or covered with just underwear which naturally the people involved wouldn’t want to share with the public.

Often times it is used for blackmailing the victims into performing sex acts or force them to continue a relationship or to just ruin someone’s reputation.

The company also said it was launching an automated process to prevent the repeat sharing of banned images published on its platform without the one’s permission. Photo-matching software will keep the pictures off the core Facebook network as well as off its Instagram and Messenger services. Facebook said users who share “revenge porn” may see their accounts disabled.

Flagging an image is as easy as hitting the report link on the site. The image is then reviewed by Facebook’s Community Operations team, and if the photo is in violation it will be removed — and the user account could be disabled. There is an opportunity for the user to appeal if the photo was taken down in error.

Facebook revenge porn tool

The company says the tools were developed in partnership with safety experts, and Facebook partnered up with safety organizations to offer other resources to victims. It says that the move is an effort to protect users and “build a safe community.”

Facebook partnered with the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Center for Social Research, the Revenge Porn Helpline (UK), and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative for this new program.

In the United States and elsewhere, Facebook has been sued by people who said it should have done more to prevent the practice. In 2015, the company made clear that images “shared in revenge” were forbidden, and users have long had the ability to report posts as violating the terms of service.

According to Antigone Davis, global head of safety at Facebook, after some backlash, the company last year met representatives from more than 150 women’s safety organizations and decided it needed to do more.

Read Also: How Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 Goals Will Fix Facebook

Prosecutors and lawmakers have also sought ways to prevent the spread of “revenge porn,” seeking additional penalties for a practice that they said has ruined careers and families and even led to suicide.

This new Facebook initiative is a step in the right direction and has been praised from different quarters with some saying the new tools are a huge advancement in combatting non-consensual pornography around the world.

How About Search Engines?

You can also get to remove such contents from search engines like Google by using the “right to be forgotten” feature. This may not get the photos or videos deleted but it makes it much harder to find on the search engines.

Besides online platforms, many countries like England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are moving to protect the victims by criminalising the act. The countries threaten punitive measures including serving a two-year jail term if a person is found guilty of such crime.  Although there is no national law concerning revenge porn in the US, the country’s 34 states have approved bills which can be applied to the act and they have gone a long way in curbing the occurrence of this heinous act.

Other countries like Germany, Canada, France, Denmark, etc do not have a direct law but have laws protecting people’s privacy. Hopefully, soon more and more countries will join in protecting individuals who fall victim of revenge porn.