Instagram is developing ‘nudity protection’ technology for messages

Unsolicited nudity is a big deal on social media, but Instagram is reportedly working on a tool that could help. An early crab tweeted Researcher Alessandro Paluzzi points out that the “Nude Image Protection” technology “includes photos that may contain nudity in the chat”, giving users the option to view them or not. Instagram parent meta confirmed with The Verge that it is under development.

Meta says the purpose is to help shield people from nudity or other unsolicited messages. For added protection, the company says it cannot view the images and share them with third parties. “We’re working closely with experts to ensure these new features protect people’s privacy and allow them to control the messages they receive,” the spokesperson said. It plans to share more details in the coming weeks ahead of any testing.

New feature similar to “Hidden Words” tool released last year, Meta added. That feature allows users to filter abusive messages in DM requests based on keywords. If a request contains any of the filter words you’ve selected, it’s automatically placed in a hidden folder that you can choose to never open – although it’s not completely deleted.

The feature is welcome but long overdue, as unwanted nude photos are largely ignored by social media companies and are now a widespread problem. A study back in 2020 by University of London found that out of 150 young adults aged 12-18, 75.8% had been sent unsolicited nude images.

Unsolicited nudity submission, also known as “cyberflashing” has been targeted by many jurisdictions including California and the UK. In the UK, it can become criminological if Online Safety Bill passed by parliament. California hasn’t gone that far, but last month the state legislature and senate unanimous vote to allow users to sue over unsolicited nudity and other sexually graphic material.

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