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Facebook testing tools to help protect against picture theft

Debuting in India, the new Profile Guard feature will stop unwanted people from copying your profile picture, and could expand to additional countries soon.

A new privacy feature called Profile Guard is coming to Facebook users in India, and perhaps other countries, too.

Facebook

Facebook sees profile pictures as an important way to help people find each other on the social media platform, but in India, there's a problem: A growing number of women don't feel comfortable uploading their pictures due to concerns over photo theft.

That's why Facebook announced a new feature Wednesday to users in India called Profile Guard that's aimed at keeping your pictures more secure. When you enable the feature, a few things will happen:

  • Other users won't be able to download, share or message your profile photos.
  • Strangers won't be able to tag themselves or anyone else in your photos.
  • If possible, Facebook will prevent people from taking screenshots of your profile picture (currently available on Android devices only).
  • Facebook will display a shield icon at the bottom of your picture and a blue border around the edge as "a visual cue of protection."

Facebook claims that extra design layers like that shield and border are a surprisingly strong disincentive against copying, with a reduction rate of at least 75 percent. Facebook also says that it's exploring ways of making it easier for people to add other designs to their profile pictures, too.

There's no word on where, specifically, the feature might be headed next, but privacy concerns are hardly unique to India. The company's blog post says it plans to expand to other countries based on what it learns in the subcontinent.