We all have photos we'd like to keep private for whatever reason, but the advent of cameras on every phone and laptop has made taking photos we'd rather forget easier than ever. And alongside that has been a proliferation of people posting these photos online without our permission. Facebook says it has a solution: "send'em our way."
The social media juggernaut is working with the Australian government in an effort to prevent intimate photos from being shared without consent, and the company is uniquely qualified to help pursue something like this, though their solution might sound unorthodox at first.
Australian e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant explained the process. You're not sending Facebook a collection of extra-personal photos for employees to page through and titter at over their lunch breaks.
"They're not storing the image, they're storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded.
Facebook doesn't control the whole of the internet, so it's not like there aren't other ways to get a photo online, but Facebook is huge, and includes the image-sharing service Instagram. If someone is going to upload a private photo without consent, there's a fair chance they could share it on something like Facebook Messenger or a private Facebook group, and this would prevent that. Facebook started taking measures earlier this year, allowing people to tag these sorts of photos as non-consensual photos if they're uploaded, so that they can't be uploaded again. This seems like an extension of that, but it lets users be more proactive. If you send it to your significant other, send it to Facebook, too.
Facebook is testing the program in Australia and three other countries, though it's unclear which other countries are participating.
You can't lock down every nook and cranny of the internet, but Facebook and Instagram are two huge places, so this could be a great way to maintain a bit more control of our personal photos – if we can get over the weirdness of sending nudes to Facebook.