Facebook and Instagram to Combat the Sharing of Teen’s Intimate Photos

Facebook and Instagram have announced that they are founding members of Take It Down, a new platform designed to proactively prevent young people’s intimate images from spreading online.

Supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the two social networks (both owned by Meta), Take It Down is a free platform that is designed to help prevent young people’s intimate photos from being posted online.

Whether or not it’s a good idea, teens share nudes. Take It Down says that while it’s not possible to go back in time and hit that unsend button, its service can at least help prevent those photos from being posted online and spreading.

“Since 2019, reports of online child exploitation and sextortion have nearly doubled. While you can’t reverse what’s been done, we can help remove your explicit images and move forward,” Take It Down says.

The free service helps remove or stop the online sharing of nude, partially nude, or sexually explicit images or videos that were taken when a person was under the age of 18.

“You can remain anonymous while using the service and you won’t have to send your images or videos to anyone. Take It Down will work on public or unencrypted online platforms that have agreed to participate,” Take It Down explains.

“Maybe you sent a picture to someone, but now they’re threatening you or have posted it somewhere. Even if you’re unsure whether the image has been shared but want some help to try to remove it from places it may appear online, this service is for you.”

Take It Down says it works by assigning a unique digital fingerprint called a hash value to photos and online platforms can use those hashes to detect the photos or videos that are uploaded to their platforms. The hash value can be assigned without the image or video ever leaving a person’s device or having anyone view it — only the hash value is provided to NCMEC.

The way this system is described sounds similar to the Hasher-Matcher-Actioner that Meta announced last December that was designed for similar purposes. Meta does say Take IT Down is based on the StopNCII platform that it launched in 2021.

Take It Down was designed with Meta’s financial support and is being integrated into both Facebook and Instagram. It is the latest in a string of safety features that have been added to Instagram since the company was fined $402 million for its handling of teens’ data, including the Take a Break feature, additional parental controls, and blocks that prevent “suspicious” adults from interacting with teens.