Facebook to open source advanced photo and video-matching technology

Facebook is preparing to release new technology which will help web platforms identify harmful content, including child sexual exploitation material and terrorist propaganda, and prevent people sharing it.

By releasing the source code for these technologies to the public the company will enable anyone to use the infrastructure for taking down abuse images without having to share the images themselves.

The company’s technology has advanced significantly since 2017 when it piloted a project in which users could upload their intimate photographs and videos to Facebook to request that they be blocked.

As analysed by Sky News when the web giant made its initial announcement, sending Facebook staff our private sexual material in order to prevent that material being seen by strangers seemed counter-intuitive.

But the two new pieces of software known as PDQ and TMK+PDQF will allow images and photographs to be blocked even if they have been modified in a way which would trick classical forms of cryptographic fingerprinting.

Facebook director Antigone Davis explained: “These technologies create an efficient way to store files as short digital hashes that can determine whether two files are the same or similar, even without the original image or video.

“Hashes can also be more easily shared with other companies and non-profits.

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