Why would anyone do this? I’m stunned.

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Why would anyone do this? I’m stunned.

There is no such thing as absolute online privacy but Facebook (now META) wants to convince you otherwise. They want your nudes to be placed in their database to safeguard them against nefarious intent. (Seriously.) Check out these quotes from NBC News.

Quote #1:

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has worked with the U.K.-based nonprofit Revenge Porn Helpline to build a tool that lets people prevent their intimate images from being uploaded to Facebook, Instagram and other participating platforms without their consent.

The tool, which builds on a pilot program Facebook started in Australia in 2017, launched Thursday. It allows people who are worried that their intimate photos or videos have been or could be shared online, for example by disgruntled ex-partners, to submit the images to a central, global website called StopNCII.org, which stands for “Stop Non-Consensual Intimate Images.” 

Quote #2:

During the submission process, StopNCII.org gets consent and asks people to confirm that they are in an image. People can select material on their devices, including manipulated images, that depict them nude or nearly nude. The photos or the videos will then be converted into unique digital fingerprints known as “hashes,” which will be passed on to participating companies, starting with Facebook and Instagram. 

Supposedly this is a tamper-proof process that people can trust. But, I’m skeptical for a number of reasons. For one, how many times has Facebook been hacked? Check out this quote from a November 21, 2021 PrivacyAffairs.com article.

The private and personal information of over 1.5 billion Facebook users is allegedly being sold on a popular hacking-related forum, potentially enabling cybercriminals and unscrupulous advertisers to target Internet users globally. If authentic, this may constitute one of the biggest and most significant Facebook data dump to date.

If this database of nudes was hacked, would Facebook cover it up to protect their reputation at your expense? Possibly. (Probably.) It would not be the first time Facebook hid business decisions others would object to. Here is a quote from ZDNet.

On June 2, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks.” It made headlines last weekend, which can be succinctly described as a ‘massive scale contagion’ of fury and disgust.

In “Experimental evidence” Facebook tampered with the emotional well-being of 689,003 unknowing users to see how emotional contagion could be controlled; basically, how to spread, or avoid the spread of, its users’ feelings en masse.

Everyone except the people who worked on “Experimental evidence” agree that what Facebook did was unethical. In fact, it’s gone from toxic pit of ethical bankruptcy to unmitigated disaster in just a matter of days.

Another consideration, if there was a treasure trove of compromising information, could “sextortionists” and hackers team up to wreck untold havoc? I think that is very likely. And in case you are unfamiliar with the term – sextortionist, here is a quote from allure magazine.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies sextortion as a form of online blackmail where explicit images are used to extort additional photos, sexual favors, and sometimes money from victims. It can involve hacking into a victim’s computer or “catfishing” — where predators lure unsuspecting victims into online relationships and coerce them into sharing nude photos or videos. A 2016 report from the Brookings Institute found that sextortion is on the rise, and noted that isn’t “a matter of playful consensual sexting,” but rather “a form of sexual exploitation, coercion and violence.”

And then there are the unintentional consequences. Imagine a politician being told that compromising photos of his wife or daughter would be released unless they voted a certain way (or paid so much money). Variations of that scenario could play out ad nauseum making hackers obscenely rich overnight. Sigh.

And let’s not forget the anarchists, those with no agenda beyond spreading chaos. Anyone remember the Ashley Madison hack? For the ignorant, here is a quote from Dark Web Journal.

Ashley Madison, a dating service that caters to married people or people in relationships seeking an affair, suffered a major security breach in August 2015. Impact Team – a hacker group – leaked personal details such as names, email addresses, credit card information, and sexual fantasies of about 30 million users of the service. The Ashley Madison hack was a historic data breach.

I think the idea itself is nonsensical. Why would anyone place themselves in such a vulnerable position? Wouldn’t the most prudent choice be not to produce and/or share such content in the first place? State revenge laws can bring about some justice, sometimes, but that is after the fact. That being said, I am not optimistic that sexting and the related dangers will go away in my lifetime.

Some tech companies are stepping up to protect people from mistakes that can last a lifetime. For example, Apple introduced a tool that will warn kids about nudes but not notify their parents. Twitter has one as well (although theirs is likely in response to hidden camera journalism). And there are guides like this one and this one and this one that give advice on how to minimize risk when indulging in such behavior. (There are also guides for parents on how to talk to their children about this kind of thing.)

I believe people have freedom of choice over how they live their lives. If you want to send spicy photos or videos to someone, you do you. However, when it comes to sending that content to Facebook (META) for safe keeping or anyone else for that matter – just say no. Better yet, (insert expletive of your choice) no! And for extra pride points, explain to them that you are not an idiot.


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