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The naked truth about Facebook's revenge porn tool

The naked truth about Facebook's revenge porn tool
From Engadget - November 10, 2017

According to press who wrote about it (forcing Facebook to come back with panicked explanations) in detail that made it sound even worse, the revenge porn tool works like this:

A person starts a conversation with themselves in Facebook Messenger and uploads a nude.

Apparently, someone might want to do this if they see one of Facebook's monstrous users publishing nonconsensual sexytime photos of them, or fear a revenge porn scenario may some day come to pass. The process presumes the victim has these photos in the first place, and cavalierly ignores that this person is living in a nightmarish hellscape trauma that is in no way re-experienced by handing the instrument of their terror to an anonymous, unaccountable, possibly grey alien Facebook employee.

The idea is, that the user flags it as a "non-consensual intimate image." The photo is copied to Facebook, because that is what computers do: they copy files.

This apparently sends a copy of the image to the probable-Cybermen behind the scenes at Facebook, who momentarily pause from massaging advertisers with whale tears, laughing at people worried about Holocaust denial, high-fiving over scenes of unbelievable human devastation, and destroying democracy.

Then a person, and totally not a heartless tech bro, who works for Facebook looks at it. They decide if it is revenge porn, or if on that day you are justs**t out of luck for getting your nonconsensual nudes removed.

At some point, according to what Facebook told Motherboard, the image has portions of it blurred out. This may happen with magic grey alien technology in transit, somehow preserving the privacy and dignity of the revenge porn victim. Maybe the employee just blurs their eyes over the sensitive parts by squinting really hard or rubbing their eyelids. Perhaps a superhacker Facebook cyber-script blurs the private bits so quickly you can feel a breeze come off the Facebook employee's computer.

But probably not. A Facebook spokesperson told Motherboard that when the image is blurry, a highly specialized and incredibly trained team are the only people who have access to it for a few days. It is my personal hope that their training is in martial arts.

Yet when asked about how and when the blurring process happens, a Facebook spokesperson told Engadget that to clarify about the blurring process, the photos are hashed. We were then directed to this post, which does not talk about blurring of images at all.

So the exact process protecting the privacy of revenge porn victims that Facebook told Motherboard happens in its offices, and claimed to clarify to Engadget, may or may not be happen like this at all. This is what one might call "a bad sign."

Anyway. As best we know, after employees look at the photo (and it may or may not be altered for the privacy and dignity of its subject), Facebook's machines take over. Facebook makes a hash of the photo and stores it in a repository that's cross-checked against photo uploads on the service. We can rest assured that this part will work perfectly because Facebook has never made a mistake.

Once the hash is made, only then does Facebook delete the photo from its servers. A Thursday post from Facebook stated:

Once we hash the photo, we notify the person who submitted the report via the secure email they provided to the eSafety Commissioner's office and ask them to delete the photo from the Messenger thread on their device. Once they delete the image from the thread, we will delete the image from our servers.

Actually, hashes are how photo sites and indexes check for child porn. When those illegal photos are seized, they are hashed and put into databases that scan for matching images, helping authorities find violators and victims. The neat thing about photo hashes is that the photos ca not be reconstructed from just the hashes.

(...) a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.

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