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Facebook expands its protection of potential revenge porn photos

After early trials, Facebook wants to take its fight against abuse across the world.

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James Martin/CNET

Facebook is going further in its fight against revenge porn, expanding a pilot program that lets users upload intimate pictures before they've hit the internet in a bid to stop them from ever being shared.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Facebook's Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis said the company was updating its pilot program targeting the non-consensual sharing of images on the platform. Rather than having to report an image after it's already been shared around Facebook (the company already has a system in place for reporting and removing those images), Facebook will let users upload an image before it's been seen by others.

The system is being trialled in the US, Canada, UK and Australia, following an earlier trial in Australia in late 2017.

Facebook is also partnering with safety organisations across the four regions to make it easier for users to "proactively report" images. These include the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative and The National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US, YWCA Canada, the UK Revenge Porn Helpline and the Australian Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

Facebook users worried about intimate images being shared on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger can contact their relevant local organisation and submit a form. They'll then receive a one-time-use link to upload the image.

As with the original Australian trial, the image is then reviewed by "one of a handful of specifically trained members" of the Facebook's Community Operations Safety Team who creates a unique "hash" for the image. This hash acts like a fingerprint for the image, allowing Facebook to identify anyone trying to upload the picture in the future, without storing the image on its servers.

"It's demeaning and devastating when someone's intimate images are shared without their permission, and we want to do everything we can to help victims of this abuse," said Davis.

"This is one step to help people who fear an intimate image will be shared without their consent." 

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