Facebook Moderation Advisor: There's 'Nothing Wrong' With Consensual Pornography

Facebook Moderation Advisor: There's 'Nothing Wrong' With Consensual Pornography

MENLO PARK, Calif. — Legal scholar Danielle Citron, a member of Facebook’s Nonconsensual Intimate Imagery Task Force, one of the company’s internal — and secretive — moderation advisory groups, has stated that “there’s nothing wrong with pornography as long as you chose it yourself.”

Citron, a Boston University professor, recently received the prestigious MacArthur grant (aka the “genius grant”) for her work on online harassment, bullying, defamation and more recently “deepfakes.”

The legal expert gave an extensive interview to New York magazine’s Intelligencer vertical about changes in legal perspectives regarding online harassment.

While the interview mostly focused in what she calls Non-Consensual Pornography (NCP), the more general rubric under which instances of “revenge porn” fall, Citron did differentiate the violation of sexual privacy involved in sharing private sex videos or nude photos and consensual porn among adults. The latter category includes legally produced pornography by the adult industry.

Regarding NCP, Citron explained that Facebook (and subsidiary Instagram, which uses the same Community Standards as part of their Terms of Service), has “a no-nudity policy, anyway.”

“So my deep worry is about people’s nude photos being used without their consent and shared on the platform,” Citron said. “They’ve been really aggressive and wonderful about how to proactively deal with some of these problems. That is a one-size-fits-all approach tied to child pornography and exploitation. And that sort of makes sense, because the approach is largely similar across boundaries. In Wales and the U.K., in India, we say, ‘Okay, you don’t want your nude photo posted without consent.’ This luckily falls within their anti-pornography rules.”

Sexual Privacy

New York magazine’s Brian Feldman, who conducted the interview, asked Citron what her take was on Facebook announcing “a tool where users could submit their nude photos to Facebook so it would index them and fingerprint them,” a project Feldman considers “insane.”

“Let me explain why I don’t think that’s insane,” Citron told Feldman. “I’m on Facebook’s Nonconsensual Intimate Imagery Task Force. It’s a group of folks advising them, from advocacy groups including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, CCRI and others. The reason why it’s not crazy is because what we hear from victims of nonconsensual pornography is so often, people threaten them with the posting. They haven’t yet done it, but the person will say, ‘I’m going to post this on Facebook unless you go out on a date with me.’”

“It’s a great relief to victims that victims can provide an image that Facebook then hashes, and it will help prevent it being reposted on the platform."

"'Hashing,'" Feldman explains, "is a computer function that turns a file into a unique, algorithmically generated string of letters and numbers. A file with a hash identical to a submitted photo could not be uploaded to Facebook."

At the time that the tool was announced, Citron said, "there were really smart computer-security folks who were worried that this could lead to theft or leaks. That then undermines the project. But they’ve been working really hard, from my understanding, on those issues involving security to make this process work.”

Citron also mentioned her current “Sexual Privacy” essay in the Yale Law Journal, which is also the starting point of her next book.

This summer, Citron testified before the Senate Intelligence “about the national security and privacy implications of deep fakes.”

As a practical matter, she explained, these issues tie into her broader research, “which is 98 percent of deepfakes that are appearing online are deepfake sex videos. And 99 percent of deepfake sex videos involve women, and usually it’s female celebrities. Taking their faces and inserting their faces into porn and basically making you be a sexual object in ways that you didn’t choose.”

And then Citron added, “there’s nothing wrong with pornography as long as you chose it yourself.”

For the entire Intelligencer interview with Danielle Citron, click here.

For the recent XBIZ report about Facebook's recent ban on sexually suggestive emojis, click here.

For more of XBIZ’s coverage on social media censorship of sexual expression, click here.

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