Facebook has launched a pioneering program to protect potential victims from blackmail by publishing their photos, and to prevent "pornographic revenge."
The potential victims should upload the targeted photos using Facebook Messenger, the website’s instant messaging app, and then specialists will examine the images to determine whether they meet the criteria of "pornographic revenge" and then "encrypt" them, according to the German news agency (dpa).
Facebook explained that the process of "encryption" that resembles to electronic fingerprints will store a map for the sent image, and not the image itself.
The system is currently being piloted in Australia in partnership with the country’s eSafety Commissioner, whose mission is to protect children and youth while they use the internet.
The program allows Facebook’s Australian users who fear the publication of their images on the social network, to contact the Commissioner. If the request is approved, victims can send the targeted images to themselves via Messenger.
Facebook said that this new application is not available in the meantime, but would be used by individuals whose cases are accepted by the commissioner.
Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos wrote on Twitter: “We know that it’s a risk we are trying to balance against the serious, real-world harm that occurs every day when people (mostly women) can’t stop their intimate images from being posted.”
A specially trained Facebook representative will review the image before encrypting them. Once someone attempts to publish or share the image on any Facebook platform, including Instagram, this attempt will be automatically stopped, and Facebook can suspend the account trying to publish the photos.
Facebook will also remind users to remove images from their Messenger accounts after finishing the encryption process.
Facebook said it has sought other countries and additional partners to publish the pilot program, but it did not name the entity it will likely cooperate with after Australia.