According to CBC News, Facebook is combating revenge porn by asking people to send in their nudes — to make sure the images haven’t been used before, and won’t be used in the future. Even if you aren’t sure the photo has been shared (i.e. you’ve shown the photo to someone and you’re worried they may end up posting it online), Facebook wants you to send it in as a precautionary measure.
Not only does this sound extremely sketchy — it’s reminiscent of restaurant or bar jobs that require a photo of you, as well as your measurements — but since Facebook has recently been scrutinized in the media for how they manage their users’ personal data, this request seems exceptionally risky.
What do we know about the people and systems running the reviews? Not much. (Facebook wouldn’t reveal what their training will be, or how the reviews will be carried out.) Even if properly screened and trained, biases still exist, and problems can still occur. And even if the process goes smoothly, one of Facebook’s employees has now seen your naked body (which you may or may not be okay with).
But Facebook does have a plan laid out: there’s a safe, one-use link where you can upload your photo for viewing, and Facebook creates a unique, unidentifiable hash for it that blocks uploads of matching data to the platform. So essentially, that one image is safe from being shared on Facebook.
But what if you send out multiple different photos? Are you then expected to send in each one to Facebook, just so they can protect you on one social media platform from the possibility of your nudes being leaked?
And what about Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, even Pornhub? Even if the image is posted in one of these places and eventually taken down, the damage is done. That person’s privacy has been taken away from them, however briefly, and it leaves a mark.
I’m all for body positivity, and I’m not shy about naked bodies — after all, we all have one. And bodies have been commemorated in art for centuries. Just look at Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” Collier’s “Lilith,” Manet’s “Olympia.” The human form is beautiful, and should be celebrated.
And like these paintings, I think there’s an art to taking the perfect nude, and sharing it with someone you love — or even just like — is fun, and gives a boost to your self-esteem.
The problem is when bodies are shared without consent. When you share someone else’s nudes without consent, you’re taking away their voice and their choice — you’re effectively silencing and humiliating them. You’re pulling the power card, and that makes you a terrible person.
Sending your nudes to Facebook isn’t a solution, it’s a band-aid (and a poor one at that). Sending them your nudes will no more help the problem of revenge porn than will covering the dirty dishes in your kitchen with a blanket — the problem is still there, it’s just being hidden from your line of sight (again, poorly).
The real solution is to educate people on basic human decency. If someone sends you a photo of them and it’s just for you, and you then have a falling out with that person, be an adult. Delete the photo, and deal with your dilemma in a respectful manner. Don’t be an asshole.
Image: Mikaela Collins/The Cascade