Contact Dustyn Stevens
In light of the massively criticized news released early last month about Facebook encouraging its Australian users to send in their naked pictures, many have pointed to the damaged ethics of the proposal. Say what? That’s right, you did read that correctly. If you are unaware of the story, maybe I should backtrack a few steps and explain exactly what I am talking about.
Back in early November, Facebook announced that it had an odd strategy to combat revenge porn. Revenge porn, simply put, is when a disgruntled ex boyfriend or girlfriend decides to post naked pictures of their ex significant other to Facebook or other social media platforms.
In this age of technology, this has been a growing issue for all of us, specifically women. In fact, according to a study conducted by Data & Society Research Institute, as much as 10% of women under the age of thirty report having been victims of revenge porn.
Facebook’s plan is to roll out this new strategy in Australia first. They are encouraging users who fear becoming victims of revenge porn to send the culprit image to themselves in messenger. An assigned team at Facebook will then browse all images that users have sent to themselves, identifying the naked ones. Let me say that again. Facebook will assign a team of people to browse the images you have sent to yourself, and identify the images where you are not clothed. Would it surprise you if I told you that this is the part of the story people are having issues with?
After Facebook has identified users’ naked images, they will then make a virtual footprint of them. This footprint will be saved to Facebook’s ‘no-go’ database and effectively permanently prevent those images from being uploaded to the network. If nothing else, this is some crazy shit; right?
As I said above, the main complaint coming from the public is that a team of actual people at Facebook will be browsing through our naked pictures. But let’s look at this thing as a whole.
The mere fact that a tech company feels comfortable enough to ask its users to send in their naked pictures is astounding. Facebook already knows more about us than we realize. They know where we went to school, where we work, who we married, what movies we enjoy watching, and in some cases what we ate last night. Now they are asking for our nudes? If you ask me, this is pretty audacious of them.
On top of all of that, you are kidding yourself if you don’t think that they are selling all of this information to advertisers. If you have ever ran an ad campaign on Facebook, you would know that as an advertiser, you have the ability to specify who sees your advertisement; down to users’ shared life events. If you are a bridal company, oh yes, you can market to Facebook users whom have recently been engaged. And, it would be smart to do so. But as the user, I guess it’s just the price we pay to stay connected with one another.
This information is relevant to the nude picture story because it demonstrates what Facebook is doing with the information they already have. They are exploiting it to make money; which is what a company does. I am not saying that they are wrong in doing so. Afterall, it does theoretically benefit everyone involved. Likewise, I am not saying either that Facebook shouldn’t be trusted with your nudes. I am saying that one should keep all of this in mind before sharing anything with Facebook.
At the root of it all, to me, it is a bit of a reach for Facebook to assume the responsibility of protecting their users from revenge porn. Furthermore, it seems to be an enabling gesture.
More and more, we are given the opportunity to defer responsibility for our actions. I do not believe that it is completely illogical to say that if your nude gets posted to Facebook, it is your own damn fault for letting it fall into the wrong hands.
Facebook is setting a dangerous standard because (hypothetically speaking) if you were to send your naked picture to them and then that same naked picture was to be posted by your asshole ex boyfriend/girlfriend, it would automatically become Facebook’s fault for not preventing that situation from happening. Rationally, this is completely backwards.
At the end of the day, the absolute best way to protect yourself from revenge porn is to never let it be created. However, if you do decide to get freaky and take some scantily clad photos, you might be better off protecting them yourself.