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Facebook wants nude photos from Australian users — for a good reason

The program aims to prevent revenge-porn photos from spreading, even before they're posted. 
A Like logo at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (Photo: Martin E. Klimek, USA TODAY)

Facebook's latest attempt to wipe revenge porn off its platform takes an unusual tack: asking users to send in their own nude photos.

The Australian government's Office of the eSafety Commissioner announced it is joining a pilot program with Facebook to prevent intimate images of users from appearing against their will on the world's largest social network.

According to the eSafety Office, if a Facebook user in Australia is concerned about an intimate image spreading online, they fill out a form, then send the image to themselves using Messenger.

Once Facebook is notified, they use image-matching technology to access and tag the image to prevent anyone from sharing it on their platforms. The measure is designed to block users from sharing a photo before it can do harm.

"This partnership gives Australians a unique opportunity to proactively inoculate themselves from future image-based abuse by coming to our portal and reporting tool," said Julie Inman Grant, Australia's eSafety Commissioner, in a statement.

The limited pilot program is available in three other countries: the U.S., U.K., and Canada.

In April, Facebook detailed plans to fight revenge porn, including an artificial intelligence tool capable of matching photos to prevent them from appearing on platforms like Messenger or Instagram.

"These tools, developed in partnership with global safety experts, are one example of how we’re using new technology to keep people safe and prevent harm," said Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of global safety, in a statement.

According to Australia's eSafety office, 1 in 5 Australians has faced image-based abuse, where an intimate photo has been posted to social media without their consent.

"This pilot has the potential to disable the control and power perpetrators hold over victims, particularly in cases of ex-partner retribution and sextortion, and the subsequent harm that could come to them," said Inman Grant.

Two years ago, Twitter and Reddit cracked down on revenge porn, banning the practice on both platforms.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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