We’ve all been there after a harsh break-up: stuck in the confusing aftermath of things going very poorly with someone who has seen your butt and might even have some photos of it. Sharing revenge porn, or the risqué photos of an ex with whom you’ve broken up, is illegal in 38 states. But it’s still a very real and potentially-humiliating problem because once a photo is shared online, it’s also very difficult to remove.
Facebook, perhaps one of the least-trustworthy companies out there right now, is here to help keep your private and intimate moments off the web. According to yesterday’s announcement from Global Head of Safety Antigone Davis, Facebook is about to unveil a pilot program where people can create a “digital fingerprint” for your nudes that will keep anyone (except you, presumably) from sharing them on the platform.
But there’s a catch, and it’s a doozy. To create such a fingerprint, you would have to upload each of those photos yourself. According to the announcement, a “specially trained member of [Facebook’s] Community Operations Safety Team” would review the photo (read: take a quick gander at your privates) and create a unique hash that would flag anyone else’s attempt to upload that same photo.
This doesn’t mean that Facebook’s image-recognition software remembers what you look like naked — it just knows to scan for the exact photo that you shared. So you wouldn’t be able to just upload one potentially-compromising picture to the private server and call it a day; a fingerprint would need to be created for each photo that has you concerned. The recent announcement from Facebook says that the photo itself will be deleted after a week, and only the digital fingerprint that will flag any future uploads remains.
What hasn’t been clarified is how sophisticated the software is. Uploading entire movies to YouTube used to be as simple as making a mirror image of the video to get around the site’s filters. As of yet, there’s no word as to whether a modified version of the photo will still get flagged or if people would still be vulnerable to the disgusting whims of their more Photoshop-savvy flings.
So if you trust Facebook to handle your naked selfies more than you trust your ex, this service might be able to give you peace of mind. If the idea of uploading a sensitive photo to be reviewed by humans at a company that makes billions selling user data creeps you the hell out, then it might be best to steer clear.