Women’s Aid today welcomed the new initiative by Facebook to tackle the sharing of intimate images without consent. The measures, outlined in a blog post by Antigone Davis, Head of Global Safety at Facebook, allows users to report intimate images which they believe have been shared without consent. These images will then be examined by its Community Operations team. Any offending image will be blocked across Facebook, Facebook Messenger and Instagram. The account which shared the image may also be disabled. Women's Aid, which supports women affected by domestic and dating abuse in Ireland, has been raising the issue of digital abuse of women for many years, including the phenomenon commonly referred to as ‘revenge porn’.
Welcoming the development, Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid said:
“We are really pleased to see this initiative by Facebook to prevent the sharing of intimate images without consent. We have been working with the social network for a number of years to address the abuse of women by intimate partners online. Most recently we partnered with Facebook to launch a guide to staying safe on Facebook for women. The new tools announced today are a welcome additional step in increasing safety and protection for women online. There are now clear steps women, who have been victims of this form of digital abuse, to report these images and be supported to have images removed.”
Ms Martin explained:
“Digital abuse in intimate relationships is real, it is harmful and it is more and more being treated as a serious issue. The most common form of digital abuse we hear about are damaging rumours being spread about women both personally and professionally and having sexually explicit images and posted online without their consent. It’s not revenge, it’s not porn. It is abuse and this type of abuse is one of the deepest betrayals of trust by a boyfriend or ex.
Ms Martin added:
“The impact of this type of insidious abuse on women’s lives cannot be underestimated. Women feel that their privacy has been invaded and that they have no control over their lives. Women experience anxiety and feel vulnerable and fearful. They also have difficulty in concentrating and sleeping. Women have to change their contact numbers and email addresses, close down social media accounts and in some cases, move out of their homes. Women have to try to repair damage done to their reputation with their family, friends, at work and with their online communities.”
Anyone who is affected by this issue can call the Women’s Aid 24hr National Freephone Helpline on 1800 341 900, 7 days a week or visit the Digital Safety section of the website.
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