Online sexual harassment is a real scourge. To remedy this, Instagram is working on a new function, capable of detecting and blocking unsolicited photos of genitals sent in private messages.

Online sexual harassment is a real scourge To remedy this

Online sexual harassment is a real scourge. To remedy this, Instagram is working on a new function, capable of detecting and blocking unsolicited photos of genitals sent in private messages.

The expansion of the Internet has led to the appearance of a new trend that we would have liked to do without: cyberflashing. It’s about sending a photo of his genitals – by message or in a Bluetooth sharing – to people who have asked for absolutely nothing. This phenomenon mainly affects women, who receive dick picks – unwanted penis photos – in their private messaging. It is neither more nor less than a form of digital exhibitionism – moreover condemned in certain States such as the United Kingdom – which can go as far as sexual harassment. A YouGov study points out that 78% of women aged 18 to 34 and 69% of women aged 35 to 54 have already received a dick pick without having asked for it – while only 17% of men admit having already sent it. Social networks are very affected by this phenomenon and have difficulty protecting their users. According to the study of a British NGO, 90% of such images are currently undetected by Instagram’s tools. The social network is trying to remedy this with a new tool.

A new tool to fight online sexual harassment

It was developer Alessandro Paluzzi who spotted this tool, called Nudity Protection, in the code of the Meta social network application. It automatically blocks sexual images before they are seen. More precisely, an artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes each photo sent through private messaging – but without apparently having access to it. If she determines it’s a sexual shot, she blurs it out before sending it to the recipient. Who can then decide whether to unblur it or not. A way to accept nudes – which are therefore consented – but not cyberflashing.

Meta confirmed to The Verge work on such a tool, which also integrates into the “Hidden Words” function introduced last year. It automatically filters requests for private messages containing offensive content. Liz Fernandez, a spokeswoman for Meta, said: “We are working closely with experts to ensure that these new options preserve users’ privacy, while giving them full control over the messages they receive”. For now, Nudity Protection is still in the experimental stage. More information will be communicated in the coming weeks.

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