News24

Facebook to scan for child porn

2011-05-19 22:13

San Francisco - Facebook's chief technology officer said on Thursday that the social network will start scanning for child pornography and images of missing children.

Facebook is teaming up with Microsoft and the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to use photo "fingerprint" technology to search for pictures matching those in the US organisation's data base.

"We care deeply" about stopping abuse, Facebook officer Bret Taylor said while revealing the alliance during testimony at a US senate commerce committee hearing in Washington on mobile phone and internet privacy.

Microsoft PhotoDNA technology used at search engine Bing and online file storage service SkyDrive will be put to work at the world's leading social network.

PhotoDNA has already evaluated more than two billion digital pictures at Microsoft services, finding 1 000 matches on SkyDrive and 1 500 matches through Bing image indexing, according to Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit associate general counsel Bill Harmon.

"PhotoDNA identified horrific images on our services that we would have never found otherwise," Harmon said.

With Facebook among the world's largest photo-sharing services, "their participation in the PhotoDNA program will significantly expand the program's impact", Harmon added.

Each month Facebook users share more than 30 billion pieces of content including pictures, news stories, blog posts, and web links, according to Microsoft.

"Identifying graphic child pornography in a sea of content like that is a daunting task, but PhotoDNA is helping to find the proverbial needle in a haystack," Harmon said.

Comments
  • Frungy - 2011-05-20 03:23

    So PhotoDNA identified 1000 and 1500 matches... note that there might be overlap so in 2 billion images that's between 1000 and 2500 "horrific" images. ... less than 0.001% of images. And note how they avoid actually saying that any of these images are child porn, they just say they're "horrific", they could be fetish pictures or anything else. Frankly I find this entire thing disturbing. There's also the issue of how PhotoDNA works, it has master copies of masses of child porn pictures, which is then uses to match up to others.... so the moral question here is whether it's right to use child porn to find child porn. Sounds deeply morally dodgy to me.

      NO-BULL - 2011-05-20 08:32

      ...then keep the newly found ones to aid the search for more to store to aid the search for more to store... @Francis. Just be patient. Soon MS will have a whole warehouse full of servers for you to hack :P

      NO-BULL - 2011-05-20 08:33

      ....OOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRR....... Perhaps they don't need nude pictures to compare the faces!? Think perhaps they hold a database full of MILK CARTON photographs?

  • Compassion - 2011-05-20 07:20

    ANYTHING TO STOP CHILD PORNOGRAPH!!! I think PhotoDNA search in social networks is a good starting point. Parents on social networks can also help by starting to block their photos of their children from being viewed by “everyone” and change that to “friends only”. Then again, are “friends” really friends that you know and can trust? Or just strangers that you added as friends? It must be remembered that when you publish a photo in your album, it is there for the world to see. It is a vicious circle. There are pro’s and con’s to PhotoDNA. But I am sure that any parent, on any social network, will be willing to help stamp out this EVIL, and assist in finding missing children.

  • StJohn - 2011-05-20 09:04

    Brilliant news! Now let's get them to remove animal crush videos and videos of dog fighting as well. Even though the FBI works with activists in rooting out animal crush and dog fighting videos, Facebook is arrogantly withholding their support. :(

  • ProfAndy - 2011-05-20 16:21

    This is part of Facebook's campaign to legitimize themselves in the face of privacy protests. They now have a 'valid' reason to search through all of our photos. Almost always privacy is eroded for seemingly good reasons. I am deeply suspicious of Facebook and have heard that it is part-owned by the CIA. What better cover (and method) to gather information on every person on the planet? Once they can convince us that they are searching for porn, the next step is to search for 'terrorist' activites, etc, etc. Think deeply about anything 'mission-critical' before posting on Facebook - once its on their site they can and will use it for any purpose they choose. And, trust me, they don't give a damn about your privacy.

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