YOU’RE going to laugh at the next sentence but you have to stick with it and allow me to explain. In a bid to prevent revenge porn, Facebook would like you to send nude pictures of yourself over to the team.

I’m serious. The company that has just been at the centre of a massive data-grabbing scandal and a major, international story, wants its two billion plus users to know that they can totally and completely trust Facebook with their nudes.

The call is part of the rollout of a scheme to tackle revenge porn, the act of sharing either video or photographic material which often depicts provocative poses or sexual acts. The release of such images can cause profound distress to victims, and there has been a crackdown in recent years to deal with the growing problem. The internet has made it easy to post intimate images on porn websites, social media pages, and even dedicated revenge porn websites – yes, there are a lot of sick people out there.

And so, Facebook has partnered up with the UK’s Revenge Porn Helpline to do its bit in addressing the problem. Under the scheme, victims can contact the helpline in the first instance, whose team will then get in touch with Facebook. Once you’ve sent a copy of the images you’re worried about over to the network, it will create a digital footprint from them (it’s called “hashing”) which its technology can then use to block any attempts to upload the images to any pages. Only a very small team of humans will see the material a person sends in, Facebook says, and the images will be deleted after about a week.

Aye right, I hear you all say.

That was my instinct when I first saw the headline. I’m not sure I can think of many worse ways to spend a day than sitting down at my computer and emailing naked pictures of myself over to a bunch of strangers at Facebook.

Well, other than the prospect of finding those naked pictures posted all over Facebook, of course. It’s a dilemma I hadn’t expected to be facing this week: if I really had to choose between the risk of something so deeply personal finding its way into the public domain or trusting Facebook, of all companies after the Cambridge Analytica revelations, to act on my behalf and protect my privacy, what on earth would I do?

And then it struck me. Welcome to the new world. This is how much power and influence Facebook has, and we are all at its mercy. If I were to find myself in this horrifying position, I could go to the police. But if I did that, I’d have to give a statement. It would be humiliating. It could even feel like an interrogation. Then I’d have to wait for them to take action, if they even really felt they could.

The length of time it would take to go through the process, even if it was relatively quick by police standards, would most likely be too long. It takes seconds to upload images to the internet, and Facebook could act more quickly.

And so, if it was me, if I had been threatened and if I really believed I was at risk of this heinous act, I’d probably bite the bullet and drop Facebook a line. I’d have to believe that the staff at the other side would behave appropriately and sensitively. I’d have to trust that they’d be good to their word about destroying the images after a short period of time.

Revenge porn is a terrible, abusive act – make no mistake about that. It’s not simply a fit of rage, it’s not an error of judgment, it is a malicious, destructive thing. While the thought of opening up a whole new dimension to my relationship with Facebook doesn’t really appeal – I get offended at its pregnancy test adverts every month never mind this – I’m going to have to agree that on balance, as a short-term measure, it’s a decent move. If we’re going to demand Facebook takes more responsibility for the power it has, we have to acknowledge when it does.


A man who is not transgender thought he would be clever recently by standing for election as the Labour party’s women’s officer after declaring he self-identified as a woman on Wednesdays.

Activist David Lewis was suspended last week after the party didn’t take too kindly his efforts. Lewis said he was protesting the party’s policy that transgender women are eligible for all-women shortlists and women’s officer roles.

While there are some understandable concerns around what changes in laws and customs to accommodate transgender people will mean in practice – let’s face it, when it comes to sex, gender and identity, we can be a very confused bunch – stupid stunts like this hint at disdain rather than concern.

Perhaps Lewis ought to consider the trauma and discrimination trans people face before reducing what they go through to a choice as simple as what to have for breakfast.