Facebook users that believe they are at risk of being victims of revenge porn are being told to send in their nude photos and videos, so Facebook can block them before they are uploaded.

With the evolution of #Social media came the emergence of this new crime. Revenge porn was categorised as a crime in England and Wales in 2015 and holds the maximum sentence of two years. It is where an explicit and intimate photo or video is shared without the consent of the subject. This is usually done via social media.

Using hashing technology

The Facebook software will work is by creating a 'hash', a digital footprint of the image which is kept on file.

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If it is uploaded in the future the software will recognise the hash and prevent it from being uploaded. Currently, if an explicit image is shared you need to report it to Facebook and then wait for it to be taken down. Often during that time, it has been shared again, with major damage caused. The hashing technology has been used previously to #Stop The Spread of child porn and terrorist images.

Alex Stamos the Chief Security Officer at Facebook said they were improving to be resilient to such changes against tricking the hashing technology by cropping or resizing the image. He has not commented on how they prepare to combat the images being intercepted in transit or accessed before they are deleted.

Trials in Australia

Trials of this unique approach are available In Australia with plans for the UK, USA and Canada to follow suit.

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Australia’s e-Safety Office advises that one in five Australians have been victims of having an unconsented image shared.

The way it works in Australia at present is that if someone is worried they need to contact the e-Safety Commissioner via an online form. They are then likely to be advised to send the image to Facebook via Messenger. A blurred copy of the image is then viewed to check it is explicit and a hash is created. The blurred images are, however, kept on file to ensure that the tech is working correctly before they are deleted.

Australia's e-Safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant has joined forces with Facebook to trial the scheme. She advises Facebook does not store the images and only keeps the hashes. She goes on to say, 'If somebody tried to upload that same image which would have the same digital footprint or hash value it would be prevented from being uploaded.'

In April, Facebook announced the use of artificial intelligence to help keep users safe, however, it is yet to be seen if people are indeed willing to send compromising photos of themselves to the social media giants.