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Facebook is bringing in new measures to crack down on revenge porn

The social media platform can now prevent intimate images from being shared on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

Image: Shutterstock/antb

FACEBOOK HAS ANNOUNCED it is rolling out new tools to crack down on revenge porn.

The social media platform can now prevent intimate images from being shared on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.

The company said this is part of their ongoing effort to “help build a safe community on and off Facebook”.

The new measures may result in those that share intimate images online without consent having their Facebook account disabled.

How does it work?

If you see an intimate image on Facebook that looks like it was shared without permission, you can report it by using the “Report” link that appears when you tap on the downward arrow next to a post.

Facebook said trained representatives from their Community Operations team will then review the image and remove it if it violates their community standards.

It said that many cases it will disable the account that has shared the intimate images without permission. There will be an appeals process if someone believes an image was taken down in error.

Photo-matching technology

The company said it can 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, Facebook will alert the user that it violates Facebook policy and that their attempt to share it has been halted.

The popular social media company said the development of the features has been done in partnership with safety experts.

Over the last year, Facebook said it has convened over 150 safety organisations and experts in Ireland, Kenya, India, Washington DC, New York, Spain, Turkey, Sweden and the Netherlands to get feedback on ways to improve.

Proposed new laws 

Today’s announcement comes as the Labour Party puts forward legislation to make revenge porn a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment of at least six months.

Last year, the Law Reform Commission report, which reviews and updates Irish law, said reforms should be made in cases of anonymous abuse and threatening messages.

It stated that while there were positives to the internet, there were also negatives. Some of these negative aspects include intentional victim-shaming, or revenge porn, where naked photographs of a person are shared online, usually after a break-up or argument.

Revenge porn is already illegal in many countries around the world. In 2015, England and Wales joined jurisdictions including Japan and the US state of California in banning such images.

Labour’s Brendan Howlin said Ireland is behind the pack when it comes to this issue and said he expects widespread support for his Bill.

He told TheJournal.ie that Ireland has a lot of work to do to “catch up” with other countries.

Other than revenge porn, the proposed laws also criminalises the publication of threatening, false, indecent or obscene messages to or about another person.

As the law stands, the offence of sending grossly offensive messages only covers phone and text (SMS) messages.

“That the law in this area hasn’t changed since the invention of the text message is surely enough reason to reflect on whether our laws are up to date,” said Howlin.

It will also update the offence of harassment to make it an offence if a person persistently follows, watches, pesters or besets another person, or persistently communicates with another person.

The punishment is a Class A fine or imprisonment for 12 months or, on conviction on indictment, to a fine or 7 years.

Stalking is also included in the bill, whereby if the defendant’s acts both seriously interfered with the victim’s peace and privacy and caused the victim alarm, distress or harm, the court may take that into account as an aggravating factor.

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