Meta proactive in adding extra protection to teens online

Meta Social media platforms have enabled individuals to connect from afar in this day and age.

Nevertheless, although social media offers advantages, it also has disadvantages.

It can, for example, be used to bully others.

Meta, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, is well aware of how its platforms have become breeding grounds for such crimes, notably “revenge porn.”

The problem

The act of sharing graphic photographs of someone online without their consent is known as revenge porn.

Teens, in particular, are vulnerable to revenge porn, with scandalous material being posted on Facebook and Instagram.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the amount of revenge porn on the internet has increased in recent years, particularly among young boys.

Meta has created a new tool called “Take It Down” in order to combat the proliferation of pornographic photographs.

The tool

Take It Down is aimed at persons who upload graphic photos of others without their permission in order to disgrace them.

NCMEC operates and runs it, allowing minors to anonymously attach a hash or digital fingerprint to personal photographs or videos taken with their own device.

Users do not need to upload them to the new platform either.

Teens may install the program and make a hash of sexual content by visiting the official website.

Although the picture will not be saved in the database, the anonymized number will.

Because the photo is connected to Meta, if it is shared on Facebook or Instagram, it will be compared to the original, evaluated, and possibly deleted from the site.

“This issue has been incredibly important to Meta for a very, very long time because the damage done is quite severe in the context of teens or adults,” said Meta global safety director Antigone Davis.

“It can do damage to their reputation and familial relationships, and puts them in a very vulnerable position.”

“It’s important that we find tools like this to help them regain control of what can be a very difficult and devastating situation.”

Who can use it?

Take It Down works for photographs posted on Facebook, Instagram, and their respective direct messaging services as long as they are not encrypted.

Furthermore, Take It Down can be used by anyone under the age of 18 in collaboration with parents and trusted adults on behalf of a young person.

Meta covers the entire cost of the tool.

Additionally, it builds on a similar website launched in 2021 by more than 70 non-governmental organizations called StopNCII, all of which work to prevent revenge porn among adults.

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The effort

Since 2016, the NCMEC’s cyber tip line has received over 250,000 reports of online enticement, including sextortion.

The number of reports more than doubled between 2019 and 2021.

Last year, 79% of offenders sought money to prevent the images from being uploaded, with many of them taking place on social media.

Antigone Davis was probed by Senators over a year and a half ago about the Meta applications’ influence on younger users.

At the time, it was reported that the corporation was aware that Instagram may be “toxic” to adolescent girls.

While the firm did put out additional tools and protections, experts say it took too long and that more might have been done.

President Joe Biden sought more clarity regarding Meta’s algorithms and their influence on the mental health of teenage users during his recent State of the Union speech.

Davis replied by noting that the firm appreciates efforts to standardize the sector so that youngsters can browse and enjoy internet services.

She also stated that the firm is boosting its efforts to protect underage users, particularly when it comes to removing obscene photographs.

“Sextortion is one of the biggest growing crimes we see at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children,” said Gavin Portnoy of NCMEC.

“We’re calling it the hidden pandemic, and nobody is really talking about it.”

Portnoy also emphasized the rise in juvenile suicides as a result of revenge porn.

“That is the driving force behind creating Take It Down, along with our partners,” he added.

“It really gives survivors an opportunity to say, look I’m not going to let you do this to me. I have the power over my images and my videos.”

Other platforms take action

Apart from Meta, OnlyFans and MindGeek, Pornhub’s parent firm, are incorporating comparable technology into their sites.

However, there are certain restrictions.

Altering the original image by cropping it, adding emojis, or doctoring it is one possible loophole.

Take It Down can still identify filters such as sepia or black and white.

Meanwhile, Meta suggests that teens produce a hash for each copy of the image or altered version.

“There’s no panacea for the issue of sextortion or the issue of the non-consensual sharing of intimate images,” said Davis.

“It really does take a holistic approach.”

Take It Down is not the company’s first attempt to devote resources to combating explicit material with youngsters.

It has already made changes to the platforms to provide an age-appropriate experience for teenagers, including:

  • Supervision tools for parents
  • Age-verification technology
  • Defaulting teens into private settings on Facebook and Instagram
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