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Facebook launch new system to tackle revenge porn

Facebook is to use photo-matching technology
Facebook is to use photo-matching technology

Facebook is to use photo-matching technology as part of new tools to prevent the spread of revenge porn on its platforms, the social network has announced.

The social media site's head of global safety Antigone Davis said Facebook will use the new technology to increase security for users across its different apps.

"This is part of our ongoing effort to help build a safe community on and off Facebook," she said.

As part of the tools, Facebook said "specially trained representatives" from its Community Operations team review images that are reported to them and remove them, as well as suspending the account that shared the image in most cases.

"We then use photo-matching technologies to help thwart further attempts to share the image on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram," Ms Davis said.

"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."

In April 2015 it was made an offence in England and Wales to share private sexual images or video without the subject's consent, and according to the most recent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) report, 206 people were prosecuted for such offences in the law's first year.

Facebook also says it works with safety organisations to offer "resources and support" to any victims of revenge porn.

Laura Higgins, founder of the Revenge Porn Helpline UK, said: "We are delighted with the announcement made by Facebook today.

"This new process will provide reassurance for many victims of image based sexual abuse, and dramatically reduce the amount of harmful content on the platform.

"We hope that this will inspire other social media companies to take similar action and that together we can make the online environment hostile to abuse."

Meena Kumari, from independent charity Victim Support, said Facebook's announcement was a positive move but more needed to be done to support victims of revenge porn.

"Revenge porn can have a devastating impact on victims leaving them feeling deeply distressed, humiliated and powerless," she said.

"Facebook's announcement of a tool to clamp down on sharing images flagged as revenge porn sounds like a step in the right direction, but we believe more needs to be done on a wider scale, including changing the law to afford victims the same automatic anonymity in the media as those who make a complaint of rape and other serious sexual offences.

"Without anonymity a victim testifying in court faces their name and details being reported in the press, which can discourage them from coming forward as it could lead to the images or videos being shared more widely."