By Ila Ananya
On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it’s going to be starting two new features in India that it hopes will make women in the country feel safer on it. Basically they’re trying to give women more control over who can download and share their profile photos, since Facebook’s research in India found that a lot more women are hesitant to upload photographs of themselves for their profiles. Mostly it’s because women are worried they’ll be misused.
The first feature is supposed to be a blue shield. When women use it, it’s supposed to let everyone know you want your photo to be protected (although we’re quite sure there’s going to come a point when people are going to twist this around and say a woman hadn’t used this ‘shield’ so they believed they could do what they wanted with the photo. Activating the photo guard will stop others from downloading, sharing, or sending the photo as a Facebook message. Only Android users logging onto Facebook using the Facebook app won’t be able to screenshot it either (but everyone else can, and it doesn’t really stop anyone from taking a photo of the photo on another phone). Apart from this there’s an odd design overlay that women can activate over their profile photos (that mimic “traditional art designs from around India”), which will apparently deter people from copying a photo because now there are designs over it.
Anyway, what none of this addresses is Facebook’s super lax moderation rules (because of their stretched ideas of freedom of speech) and the large-scale trolling that’s so common across India and other countries. It’s something that they need to urgently address, because Facebook has time and again proved it is okay with having vicious, violent, or threatening comments against women remain online. This became obvious when the Facebook training manual was leaked in May this year. And as this Conversation piece showed us, there’s enough research to show that women are often forced to retreat and stay silent in the face of encountering abuse online.
So these small Facebook suggestions to protect your photo might help a little bit. But they’re not going to go far enough.