No, Facebook Hasn’t Cancelled Its Anti-Revenge Porn Trial

 

The office of the Australian e-safety commissioner has confirmed that a planned pilot that would allow Facebook users to upload their nudes to the social media website to assist with the takedown of those nude photos from Facebook, will likely launch later this year.

Late last year the e-safety commissioner announced the pilot where users fill out a form with the commissioner, send the photo via a one-time link provided to them, a Facebook employee reviews the image, hashes it (stores it in a “human-unreadable numerical fingerprint”) and then deletes the original photo.

When someone attempts to upload the photo to Facebook after that, it is matched with the hash and blocked.

This week Facebook announced it would expand the pilot to the UK, Canada, and the US.

The Australian newspaper then reported on Friday that the pilot was “called off” in Australia by the e-safety commissioner “amid fears of a significant public outcry” following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook and the e-safety commissioner both told BuzzFeed News the story was incorrect.

“A story today reporting that the pilot has been put on hold is inaccurate — the pilot has not gone live in Australia yet,” a spokesperson for the e-safety commissioner said in a statement.

Since October 2017 people have been able to fill out a form from the e-safety commissioner’s office to report image-based abuse, however the actual pilot where people upload their photos to Facebook has not yet gone live. There have been 200 reports received by the e-safety commissioner since October.

“The e-safety office provided some feedback about the proposed pilot, which Facebook is working through before the pilot goes live,” the spokesperson said.

The office said it was expected the pilot would launch later this year.

In Senate Estimates on Wednesday, e-safety commissioner Julie Inman Grant said in 160 of the 200 cases reported, images had successfully been removed. She said the remainder were on “rogue websites” hosted overseas and there had been “a resistance to takedown”.

Inman Grant said that the office was in the process of building new infrastructure to securely handle reporting images, because the existing system was unreliable.

“Obviously we are dealing with the most sensitive of data and images and we want to ensure it is very secure,” she said.

She said for the image-based abuse portal, the office had a “work around” to store the images and information securely in the meantime.

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