Facebook uses Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology to fight child porn
Facebook will be the first online company outside of Microsoft to roll out the Redmond, Washington, software giant’s PhotoDNA technology in the fight against child pornography.
The technology creates a digital fingerprint from photographs to be able to find and identify other versions of the same images online. The technology was recently donated by Microsoft to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the US.
“Microsoft began implementing PhotoDNA technology in Bing and SkyDrive, including images posted to SkyDrive through Hotmail, in a thoughtful and gradual process in order to assess the capabilities of the technology and we are seeing strong results,” explained Bill Harmon, an associate general counsel in Microsoft’s Digital Crimes Unit.
“PhotoDNA identified horrific images on our services that we would have never found otherwise. To date, we have evaluated more than 2bn images on our services using the PhotoDNA signatures provided by NCMEC, leading to the identification of more than 1,000 matches on SkyDrive and 1,500 matches through Bing’s image search indexing.”
No false positives
Harmon said a rate of zero false positives shows that the combination of technology and partnership with NCMEC delivers a powerful ability for responsible online service providers to surgically identify and disrupt the spread of known child pornography online.
“We expect the number of matches to rise over time as we continue to work with NCMEC to expand the deployment of PhotoDNA.
“Facebook is the world’s largest social network and one of the largest photo-sharing services. Their participation in the PhotoDNA program will significantly expand the program’s impact. PhotoDNA has the power to quickly and accurately identify known child pornography images amongst Facebook’s billions of files shared online.
“In just one month, Facebook’s services host more than 30bn pieces of shared content, including photos, web links, news stories, blog posts and more. Identifying graphic child pornography in a sea of content like that is a daunting task, but PhotoDNA is helping to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.”
Harmon said in the official Microsoft blog that Facebook’s bold step forward to become the first online service provider to join Microsoft in partnership with NCMEC on the PhotoDNA program sends a strong message: “We will not tolerate the use of our services to victimise children in this way when we have the technology to do something about it.
“We hope that Facebook’s adoption of PhotoDNA serves as a springboard for other online service providers to take advantage of the opportunity available through NCMEC’s PhotoDNA program and, in fact, we know that others are exploring the possibility right now,” Harmon said.