One in 25 Americans is the victim of or has been threatened with revenge porn

By Charlotte Triggs
March 15, 2019 07:00 AM
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Facebook is stepping up its fight against revenge porn.

The social media company (which also owns Instagram) announced Friday that it would be introducing new technology aimed at identifying images of a sexual nature that may have been shared without the subject’s consent and offering new resources to victims of revenge pornography.

“Nobody should have intimate images shared without their permission,” Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg tells PEOPLE in an exclusive interview. “It’s devastating to them. We definitely ban anything like this. But we want to do a better and better job getting to [these images] faster and faster. This is about getting to them even before they’re reported. Even one image like this is too much.”

One in 25 Americans is the victim of or has been threatened with revenge porn, or nonconsensual image sharing, according to a 2016 study, with young women a more frequent target: one in 10 women under the age of 30 has experienced threats of nonconsensual image sharing.

Revenge porn became a hot topic in 2017 after reality star Rob Kardashian shared sexually explicit photos of his ex, and the mother of his child, Blac Chyna, in a series of angry posts.

Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna
Gabriel Olsen/WireImage; Phillip Faraone/WireImage

Although Facebook and Instagram have already had rules against explicit images on the platform, Sandberg says their new measures are targeting more subtle forms of abuse.

“We are now able to use machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to proactively detect near-nude images or videos so we can get them down before they’re reported,” she says. (The new systems will also look at posts written in a “vengeful” manner to determine which images are being shared non consensually.) “And that’s really important because once you’ve reported it, maybe other people have seen it. And can be hard for women to report these.”

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Facebook is also launching “Not Without My Consent,” a victim-support hub in the Safety Center.

“The impact for women who are the victims of revenge porn is quite great,” adds Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Global Head of Safety.

“There are studies that show 90 percent of them have severe emotional distress, may lose their jobs, may lose connection to their families,” she says. “We want them to know they can go to this online hub to find the resources they need and that people are working to support them.”

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