Facebook has decided to use PhotoDNA, an image analysis software, to fight child pornography. The software will scan all the images uploaded on Facebook and block the ones showing child pornography.
PhotoDNA was co-invented by Microsoft in collaboration with Dartmouth College. It then freely licensed it to NCMEC (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children) for use in a program to disrupt the online distribution of the worst known images of child pornography known to NCMEC. Microsoft already uses the PhotoDNA technology in its Bing and SkyDrive services. Microsoft has so far evaluated more than 2 billion images and found 2500 abusive images on both the services.
Facebook has more than 500 million users worldwide. Facebook’s services host more than 30 billion pieces of shared content including photos, web links, news stories, blog posts and more. Facebook has become the first online service provider after Microsoft to implement PhotoDNA technology. Facebook has come under heavy criticism for its child protection measures in the past. A teenager named Ashleigh Hall was lured by a 33 year old man posing as a handsome teenager. He then kidnapped and murdered the girl.
Microsoft hopes that Facebook’s adoption of PhotoDNA serves as a springboard for other online service providers to join NCMEC’s PhotoDNA program, according to its blog post. “It takes a united effort across our industry to effectively confront the problem so child pornographers have no place to hide. Technology may have helped enable the growth of online child pornography, but technology can also be part of the solution”, the blog post says.