Facebook Is Fighting Revenge Porn with These Important New Tools
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Deleting a photo from the internet is often virtually impossible. Images spread quickly, through public posts and private messages. So what happens when an image intended to be private is shared without permission? As a response to this type of harassment, Facebook has developed new tools to stop “revenge porn.”

On Wednesday, Facebook announced new measures to help prevent intimate photos from being shared without consent (i.e. “revenge porn”) across their platform. In partnership with safety organizations like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, Facebook is making this type of content easier to report, address, and eradicate. When someone reports an image that looks like it was shared without permission, a team of specially trained representatives will review and remove the image if it violates Facebook’s community standards.

Perhaps more important, though, is this: They don't just stop there. They will then use photo-matching technologies to help prevent further attempts to share the image on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

“If someone tries to share the image after it’s been reported and removed, we will alert them that it violates our policies and that we have stopped their attempt to share it,” the announcement states. In most cases, Facebook will also disable the accounts that share photos without permission. Facebook has also released a guide to reporting “revenge porn” that is specific to the platform, providing resources and information to victims of nonconsensual pornography.

According to statistics from the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, more than one in five people surveyed have been a victim of nonconsensual pornography. Of theses victims of “revenge porn,” 93 percent say they’ve suffered significant emotional distress. 82 percent report suffering significant impairment socially, occupationally, or in other important aspects of their lives. 90 percent of the victims are female.

While 34 states have laws against “revenge porn,” those laws are often ambiguous or inconsistent. Overall, instances of sexual assault and sexual harassment both go widely unreported, perpetrators of sexual violence receive minimal consequence, and victims receive little to no justice. The statistics on victims of “revenge porn” mirror that of victims of sexual assault:  One in five women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.

Perceptions of consent and what constitutes assault are still widely unclear. It’s apparent in conversations regarding celebrity nude photo "leaks.” The very fact that this type of harassment is categorized as a “leak” or “scandal” diminishes their severity. But let's be clear: A naked photo that is taken or shared without consent is sexual harassment. Season finales of Real Housewives are “scandalous”; Sharing “revenge porn” is a crime.

The steps taken by Facebook are significant when it comes to the cultural conversation of consent. They show that there are consequences when it comes to clicking “send” on something that is not yours to share.