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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Meta deploys new tools to combat sextortion on Instagram and other apps

The efforts include using machine learning (ML) to detect nudity in direct messages restrictions on messaging teens

Tech giant Meta is testing new features to help protect young people from sextortion and intimate image abuse, and to make it more difficult for potential scammers and criminals to find and interact with teens on Instagram and its other apps and across the internet.

The Facebook parent company said it is also testing new ways to help people spot potential sextortion scams, encourage them to report and empower them to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.

“We’ve started sharing more signals about sextortion accounts to other tech companies through Lantern, helping disrupt this criminal activity across the internet.”

“Financial sextortion is a horrific crime. We’ve spent years working closely with experts, including those experienced in fighting these crimes, to understand the tactics scammers use to find and extort victims online, so we can develop effective ways to help stop them,” Meta said.

ALSO READ: WATCH: Meta unveils #EbaSafeOnline Comic Book in SA for parents and children

Harmful contact

Meta said the updates build on the company’s longstanding work to help protect young people from unwanted or potentially harmful contact.

“We default teens into stricter message settings so they can’t be messaged by anyone they’re not already connected to, show Safety Notices to teens who are already in contact with potential scam accounts, and offer a dedicated option for people to report DMs that are threatening to share private images.

“We also supported the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in developing Take It Down, a platform that lets young people take back control of their intimate images and helps prevent them being shared online – taking power away from scammers,” Meta said.

Nudity protection in DMs

While people overwhelmingly use DMs to share what they love with their friends, family or favourite creators, sextortion scammers may also use private messages to share or ask for intimate images.

Meta said to help address the scourge, it will soon start testing its new nudity protection feature in Instagram DMs, which blurs images detected as containing nudity and encourages people to think twice before sending nude images.

“This feature is designed not only to protect people from seeing unwanted nudity in their DMs, but also to protect them from scammers who may send nude images to trick people into sending their own images in return,” Meta said.

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