back to article Facebook settles landmark revenge porn case with UK teen for undisclosed sum

Facebook has settled a case with a 14-year-old girl after the social network hosted revealing pictures of her on a Facebook "shame" page. In perhaps the first case of its kind in the world, Facebook was taken to the High Court by lawyers for a Northern Irish girl, whose nude picture was repeatedly posted to the page between …

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those who feel they could be at risk from revenge porn can send in photos to be watermarked and automatically banned from all Facebook properties

First who said that the victim was in possession of the snaps in question.

Second, IMHO the idea that we should give Facebook even MORE compromat on us is a classic case of things gone way off the deep end.

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This idea is crazy - give us your home made porn so we can spot it if someone else uploads it... can't see that going wrong can you? Besides the fact that it means potentially sharing it with a PFY intern at facebook, how long before its found in an unsecured S3 bucket or on an unsecured Mongo DB ... crazy.

Another poster below says its another reason not to use facebook, but i have a feeling that poster doesn't anyway... i would say its another reason to try and stop compromising photos of your being taken in the first place! I do accept though that teenagers are nieve about this stuff though.

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Simply don't share anything you don't mind the world seeing....

It shouldn't be that way, people should know not to share intimate photos someone sends you, no matter what the age

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I wonder...

Running the risk of making a sweeping generalization:

For so called "digital natives" this generation seems wholly naive when it comes to these matters.

Or, perhaps, are these relatively isolated incidents and hence the source of their newsworthiness?

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Re: I wonder...

in the UK if a 14yo sent facebook nudes then every single staff member who handled rhe photo (not necessarily viewed) would be guilty of child pornography.

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"can send in photos"

Why do people use this horrendous website, simple i know but really, you have to be mentally sick to be involved and give info to MZ

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder...

n the UK if a 14yo sent facebook nudes

Not just UK. Pretty much everywhere. In fact most of USA is in this really weird state where the age of consent is lower than the age where pictures stop being classified as child porn.

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Re: I wonder...

Not only the person receiving it. In the UK the person sending them is also breaking the law. So by sending images of yourself (If under 16) you are also breaking the law and can be prosecuted.

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Re: I wonder...

So of someone uses this service and sends Facebook their nude photos and that someone is under 18

1. The indivisual sending is guilty of distriburing child pornography

2. Facebook and the staff involved are guilty of possessing and viewing child pornography

3. Facebook is guilty of actively inciting an individual to commit a crime by asking people to send the pictures in and employing staff to view them.

I think we'll need some new prisons.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I wonder...

>I think we'll need some new prisons.

Why? Is Australia full already?

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Or don't take the photos. It seems to me that this should have fallen under kp laws not be used to justify revenge porn law idiocy.

It could be that the pictures were taken involuntarily but the weight of experience goes the other way. In which case, while I feel for her pain, the root cause was entirely within her ability to control and unless Facebook was exceptionally slack, it bears little responsibility.

Purveyors of traditional values don't do so because they are sex-negative or are intent on spoiling your fun. It is demonstrably true that expecting others in society to compensate for your lack of modesty is ineffective and thus foolish. Stop expecting that others can or will fix individual failure.

Digital is designed for copying. If you want to keep your modesty, you have to be modest. Parents should teach their kids values which will keep them safe and actively discourage, with reasons, unsafe values. Schools can also help by using every data breach news story as a lesson in safe internet and device usage. Ram the lesson home at every opportunity: Digital is inherently unsafe. Demonstrate how phones sync photos and data.

We need to disabuse people of the notion that phone data is private.

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Anonymous Coward

More reasons not to use facebook.

They settle out of court for an undisclosed amount to avoid a legal precedent and indicator of compensation amount for future victims.

They really are scum.

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Cause:

They really are scum.

Effect:

More reasons not to use facebook.

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As she is 14 years old

How come face book is not being prosecuted for distributing indecent images of a minor?

Or is reviling something different from indecent?

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Re: As she is 14 years old

How come face book is not being prosecuted for distributing indecent images of a minor

Are they not treated as common carriers - thus absolving them of any liability for what they distribute. same as the Royal Mail.

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Re: As she is 14 years old

Somebody posted that image. And it's not like Facebook can't find out who.

Why are they protecting a pedophile?

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Re: As she is 14 years old

@JimmyPage

They are not common carriers, as they are also hosting the image. Royal Mail simply moves stuff from place to place. Any hosting is purely incidental during that process. Facebook on the other hand hosts the pictures etc. ISPs may be common carriers, as again, they simply move the data, hosting only temporarily as necessary to perform that function. So, no, Facebook should not be exempted under common carrier.

They are, however, exempted under the 'they're a huge and powerful and rich company' defence.

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@AC:Re: As she is 14 years old

AC,

if you have kids (I hope not...) I take it you wouldn't mind anyone introducing them to stuff [insert your choice objectional 'material': here] on their fourteenth birthday?

After all, as you consider them to be adults, doncha now?

Cheers,

Jay.

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Re: As she is 14 years old

@AC

Part of the issue with the internet in general, but especially here is exactly that. The difference in culture and laws between different countries, yet the internet does not differentiate. You're right that in some countries, a girl of 14 would have been married off and probably bearing kids by that age. Not saying it makes it right, but how can you have laws governing something that crosses so many and disparate legal boundaries? This is something no government is, of yet, willing to tackle. Not just for material relating to children, but lots of other areas. What's legal in one juristiction is not necessarily in another, but what law does the internet follow?

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Re: @AC:As she is 14 years old

Jay: After all, as you consider them to be adults, doncha now?

So the world is that binary too you?

Well done, you are a fully paid up member of the human race, welcome to the dullard species who can't formulate a social idea unless it's been done for more than a hundred years already.

No concept at all that people might be in different state 14 - 18 that might not fall into either adult or child?

Seriously, this planet......

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @AC:As she is 14 years old

The worlds not binary it's gender fluid.

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Re: As she is 14 years old

"Not a pedophile, the young woman was 14 at the time, in many countries this is the age of consent."

But not, you know, the one in which it happened.

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Re: As she is 14 years old

'Somebody posted that image. And it's not like Facebook can't find out who.

Why are they protecting a pedophile?'

The person who uploaded the photo of this teenager wouldn't be a pedophile as the definition of pedophilia is someone who is attracted to prepubescent children, despite it being the catch all phrase that the media use for anyone where the crime involves someone underage. I know people who work in criminal psychology and they tell me only a very few people who committed a sexual offenses against children would be classed as a pedophile as most times the victim is a teenager.

If this were the case then everyone who looked at a topless 16y.o Sam Fox from back is the 1980s is a pedophile now. The law was changed to make it illegal for anyone under 18 to pose topless back in 2003 and now those photos would be classed as child pron.

I am not sure how getting a out of court financial settlement helps with this young girls mental anguish, that they were claiming. I doubt the money is going to be spent on the girls mental well-being with therapy or counseling. I am all for guilty people being prosecuted for criminal offenses but suing for payouts only encourages false accusations from gold diggers. Create a fake account > upload some photos > then sue FB for it

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As she is 14 years old

Perhaps, and I'm being kind here and thinking of the best possible scenario, because the poster was another child?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As she is 14 years old

Perhaps, and I'm being kind here and thinking of the best possible scenario, because the poster was another child?

The law is retarded on this matter in many places; Wan't there a case a while ago where a girl of similar age was dared to post a nude pic of herself, upon which she was arrested, charged as an adult for the crime of posting child pron then had to register as a sex offender?

Or was that #FakeNews?

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Re: As she is 14 years old

Or was that #FakeNews?

No. It was real. There is more than one case of it, all of them USA though. The prosecution in other countries tends to demonstrate more sanity on the subject.

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Re: As she is 14 years old

"I am not sure how getting a out of court financial settlement helps with this young girls mental anguish"

As trite as it may sound, a shit load of money would definitely alleviate any mental anguish I was feeling over something.

It's not even directly about the money, this is presumably quite a large sum at the very least in the 6 figure range, and while the money won't make it not have happened or directly relieve the stress it causes it will relieve all kinds of other stresses.

She won't have to save to buy her first car and house, she won't have to worry about student loan debt if she goes to University. The money doesn't heal the original mental wound, but what it does do especially for someone of this age, is remove a lot of future worries giving you the mental space to heal.

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@Teiwaz:Re: @AC:As she is 14 years old

Teiwaz,

methinks my point skimmed your head by a few inches, I DID NOT state, imply, or suggest that there are NO countries/states/communities in the world where a 14 yo may be assumed to be 'between' that of an adult and a child.

The world is not binary to me, but how I interact and parent our son is [most of the time].

FYI wife no 1 &I went throught the whole formal process of being approved as adoptive parents here in England, to say that opened my eyes to having a sprog is a bit of an understatement...

Ymhv.

Thanks for your input (not being sarcy btw!)

Jay.

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Erm

Is this particularly FB's fault? Yes they could do with making sure the image doesnt go back up within reasonable grounds of making sure they dont bugger up FB. But whoever posted it up in the first place is surely to blame and the police seem to have failed on that one.

I feel sorry for the teen and hopefully she wont be shamed for it but supported that everyone screws up and how much of a screw up it is is subjective. Help her deal with it and cope with it but the blame stops at the poster.

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Stop

Re: codejunky Re: Erm

"Is this particularly FB's fault?...." Possibly not for the initial posting of the pic, but the same pic was reposted repeatedly after the first call to have it removed. It seems FB puts virtually zero effort into stopping reposting of banned pics, which would seem a trivial thing to stop. Firstly, they have the original pic, and a digital pic is simply lots of numbers in a file - very, very easy to build a bit of software that takes a submitted pic and compares it to a stored set of banned pics, and checks it is not an already banned pic before letting it be posted. Even easier just to make a facial recog map of the face from the banned pic and use that to stop an future repostings, especially as miscreants will try to edit the original pic to get round the first check. Secondly, the person asking for the ban has supplied their name so it would seem trivial to block anyone posting a message attached to a pic saying "Ms X is a slut" because Ms X's name is now on a banned list. But all those require two things - spending on developing the blocking system and slightly slowing submissions of pics. IMHO, FB obviously can't be bothered.

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Re: Erm

"Is this particularly FB's fault? Yes they could do with making sure the image doesnt go back up within reasonable grounds of making sure they dont bugger up FB. But whoever posted it up in the first place is surely to blame and the police seem to have failed on that one."

Is it FB's fault that they were hosting child porn, knowingly, and repeatedly? Yes, according to the law, in which child pornography is a strict liability offence. So why are we not carting FB server monkeys off to jail, hmm?

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Re: codejunky Erm

"very easy to build a bit of software that takes a submitted pic and compares it to a stored set of banned pics"

Almost as easy as using photoshop to rescale, resize, flip, invert, amend resolution, desaturate, recolour...

A piece of image recognition software that could see through all that to the original image? I know folks are working on it, but does it actually exist yet?

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Re: codejunky Erm

> A piece of image recognition software that could see through all that to the original image? I know folks are working on it, but does it actually exist yet?

Yes, of course. Some of the techniques have existed for over fifty years.

OpenCV provides a number of methods to deal with this, for instance.

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Re: codejunky Erm

Even easier just to make a facial recog map of the face from the banned pic and use that to stop an future repostings, especially as miscreants will try to edit the original pic to get round the first check.

Sorry, but no, facial recognition cannot be used for this. It is a very unreliable technology and despite the rubbish and lies from those who sell such systems, and the likes of Gartner who repeat them, it is not very much a solution to anything. Even in limited datasets, where you have the identities and profiles of a small number of individuals, match accuracy is low. As soon as you extend it out to hundreds, let alone thousands of profiles the error rate will be so high as to make the system almost useless.

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It's amazing how a few quid can make it all go away.

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Anonymous Coward

So Good Old facebook logic

Facebook has since said that it has such an ability.... can send in photos to be watermarked and automatically banned from all Facebook properties.

In this case that would be child pornography and inciting a child to do this is also criminal offence, additionally her sending said photo would be also committing an offence.

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"Had they gone that day and discovered his phone and discovered the image on it, they could have done something, but unfortunately they didn't do something for some time," he said. "In fairness, this began in 2014 so they may have improved their game since then. But in this case it was difficult to see why they didn't act quicker." ®

Because the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which included the reverse porn law didn't come in until 2015, and was required because the police lacked powers to deal with this sort of issue before then?

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"Because the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 which included the reverse [sic] porn law didn't come in until 2015, and was required because the police lacked powers to deal with this sort of issue before then?"

Downvoted because the article clearly stated that this continued into 2016.

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The article and my quote makes it clear that the initial police involvement where they are being critised for not acting quicker was in 2014. Even the most dedicated police hater can't legitimately complain that they aren't enforcing a law a year before it was passed.

And you can't legitimately complain about not enforcing a law on offenses prior to the date the law was passed either, as retroactivity (the act of doing something, and then having a law made against it and being punished for something that wasn't illegal when you did it) is banned under both the universal & EU human rights laws.

In short, your making a strawman argument and deliberately taking my post massively out of context in order to do it. Yes, they could have brought a case later, which presumably they did as the article criticises them for not acting quicker, rather than not acting at all.

Downvoted for not reading either my comment or the article.

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@Peter 2

"And you can't legitimately complain about not enforcing a law on offenses prior to the date the law was passed either, as retroactivity (the act of doing something, and then having a law made against it and being punished for something that wasn't illegal when you did it) is banned under both the universal & EU human rights laws."

I completely concur on your thought processes, but there have been several cases of laws in the UK that act retrospectively. Tax changes for instance have been made retrospective. Don't know how they expect you to avoid breaking a law that isn't even in existence at the time, but it's now happening.

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There is supposed to be a massive database of details of known child porn images so they can be automatically detected. A nude picture of a 14 year old is (other than some *very* restricted cases) clearly child porn. Why was this image not detected in this way after the first complaints?

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There is supposed to be a massive database of details of known child porn images so they can be automatically detected.

You've answered your own question there - that's known child porn. Usually compiled by CEOP trawling Child Porn providers and cataloguing the material they find when they arrest producers/consumers of such filth and examine computers and servers. I don't know whether there's a mechanism for FB/Twatter/others to submit samples to CEOP when they come across such material on their own networks.

In this case, a photo on someone's phone which has not been previously seen would not have been catalogued. And if it's only ever hit Facebook, then CEOP are unlikely to have had sight of it.

Of course it makes you wonder why FB don't have a mechanism to prevent re-upload of anything which has been reported/removed. I gather the normal CEOP routine is to take a hash of the image files in their archives which can then be quickly compared to the hashes of new images. I'm not sure they actually distribute that list - more just a blacklist of domains/IPs for ISPs to block. The cataloguing of images is less for real-time filtering and more for internal usage so that once an image has been viewed and categorised once, there is no need for Police to have to look at it again if it pops up on another seized server. They can just hash the seized material, anything that has been seen before is already given a categorisation and Officers are only subjected new/uncategorised material.

That said, maybe FB did blacklist the image did but the miscreant was especially persistent and repeatedly cropped/flipped/modified the image so it's hash didn't match the hashes in the blacklist...

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"That said, maybe FB did blacklist the image did but the miscreant was especially persistent and repeatedly cropped/flipped/modified the image so it's hash didn't match the hashes in the blacklist..."

Surely the blacklist is cleverer than that? Or else the watch list is more or less useless, no? Just chop a line off the top and you are free and clear?

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Anonymous Coward

> A nude picture of a 14 year old is (other than some *very* restricted cases) clearly child porn

No, it is not. It is a nude picture of a person 14 years of age, no more no less. What sort of pervert would think that nakedness = sexual stimulation???

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Interesting questions

This raises several interesting questions.

Without doubt the person who put up the images should be held to account and why Facebook can't/won't identify them is a very good question.

However, are Facebook liable as well. Some people are citing carrier exemption, but we'er talking about two different scenarios. With the Royal Mail and ISPs, they are simply transporting the goods and do not 'host' them. This is somewhat different to Facebook, where they are actually hosting and providing services for the images to be seen. To my mind, this is entirely different. After all, you could equate Facebook to a magazine. In both cases, they're providing the material and hosting it, not just transporting it. Now, if someone sold a magazine with a picture (presumably compromising) of a minor, would they not be prosecuted? What's the difference? If someone sent a photo into a magazine and they published it, what's the difference?

It rather strikes me that Facebook are guilty of breaching several laws in this country, just as much as any other site hosting material such as pictures. After all, if you sent material into a magazine, they simply automated into the magazine and then distributed or sold it, would you not expect them to check the content? What's the difference? Obscene publications, child abuse etc.? Would we accept excuses such as this from a magazine producer?

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Re: Interesting questions

Now, if someone sold a magazine with a picture (presumably compromising) of a minor, would they not be prosecuted?

Yes, but a magazine involves a conscious editorial decision by the staff.

Facebook cannot manually vet every image and video as they are uploaded, so as long as they respond quickly on the first report, then I would say fair play.

What they can do though is compare images on upload against their blacklist of stuff which has been reported and removed to prevent re-upload. I would say they are liable for not making their take-downs stick.

That said, if the image is flipped, cropped, resized or otherwise tweaked, it can be genuinely difficult to compare against a previously removed image and some material will unfortunately slip through.

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Re: Interesting questions

@rh587

I hear what you're saying, but I think you're mistaking their business model with the requirements of the law.

For a magazine, they can be held liable if they print an inappropriate image of a minor and there have been prosecutions to show this. Therefore, they go through a rigorous process (probably not entirely fullproof) to check the content before publishing.

Just because Facebooks business model allows anyone to submit and they can't be bothered to employ enough people to do the vetting doesn't stop them being accountable and prosecutable. They need to obey the law and just saying 'it's not practical within our business model' should not be an excuse.

Why should magazines not take the same stance and simply say we'll do something about it when it happens and not bother checking. Would save them a load of money and given that magazines are generally not very profitable these days, why should they not change their business model to this and claim the same exemption as Facebook?

A business model is only valid if it allows the company to stay within the law. Business models cannot and should not be used to try and absolve a company of responsiblity for obeying laws. What if car manufacturers decided their business model didn't allow for the cost of testing etc.? Then, people are killed in faulty cars. Does this render them not liable? Of course not.

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Re: Interesting questions

It would appear that Facebook and other Internet-based media companies are currently considered to be conduits of information rather than publishers under UK law, meaning they have limited responsibility for what appears on their sites.

I wonder if making Facebook a publisher would affect the speed with which similar images were removed?

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