Facebook backs criminalization of revenge porn

Facebook backs criminalization of revenge porn
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Facebook is backing the criminalization of so-called revenge porn but has yet to take a public position on broader draft legislation in Congress.  

Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of global safety, said on Tuesday the company is focused on targeting the people who post intimate or nude images of others online without their consent. But she hesitated to say whether the company would back legislation that holds technology companies liable if they do not promptly remove the images when asked. 

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"I haven't seen the federal legislation, so I am loath to comment on the federal legislation," she told reporters after a presentation about Facebook's projects and products dedicated to enhancing the "social good."

"We do not tolerate revenge porn on Facebook, and we have reporting folks that do allow people to report and to take it down, and we do support the criminalization for people who post that non-consensual content," she said.

"I think we really focus in on the people who are actually sharing those images without the consent of another person and on that behavior," she added at another point.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) has been working to unveil federal legislation and has had talks with tech companies and civil liberties groups about it. But the bill's introduction has been delayed for months without explanation. Her office said Tuesday that staff is still finalizing language with colleagues in the Senate. 

The tentatively titled Intimate Privacy Protection Act, as described, would make posting revenge porn a federal crime and would put companies such as Google, Facebook and other social media sites on the hook if they do not promptly remove the photos when asked. 

The legislation would not target sites when they are unaware the content has been posted. It would also contain public interest and other exemptions, after civil liberties groups raised concerns about similar state laws that have been successfully challenged in court because of First Amendment concerns. 

A number of major tech companies, including Facebook, have dedicated staff to responding to takedown requests for revenge porn and other abuse online. 

Facebook, along with Google, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tumblr and Yahoo, recently worked with California's attorney general to outline a series of best practices to remove the content. 

The best practices suggested strong terms of service that generally bar the practice and recommended a removal process of about two days that includes verification before images are blocked or removed. 

The tech companies noted that there are limits to what they can do and specifically pointed out it would be infeasible to pre-approve or even “proactively monitor” potential instances of abuse. 

In a statement released after she spoke to reporters, Facebook's Davis said the company would "continue to promote tools to fight" revenge porn. And a spokeswoman said the company looks forward to reviewing the legislation once it is released. 

— This report was updated at 6:50 p.m.