Facebook has introduced new tools to its users in India that aim to combat profile picture misuse.
Users can add a profile picture guard that prohibits others from downloading, sharing or tagging themselves by surrounding the image with a blue border and shield.
Another tool offers a range of unique overlays that can be added to the photo, as people are at least 75 percent less likely to copy a picture that is adorned with patterns.
The general problem of fake accounts, however, is widespread. Facebook said in 2012 it reported that 83 million of its accounts were fake, though it’s not clear how many of those were impersonations. The company continues to delete tens of thousands of fake accounts worldwide.
In India, the shock of finding one’s face attributed to another person’s account or a fake version has prevented many users — particularly women — from uploading profile pictures that include their image at all, Soman said.
‘We partnered with Jessica Singh, an illustrator who took inspiration from traditional Indian textile designs such as bandhani and kantha, to create designs for people to add to their profile picture,’ Soman explained.
Facebook is not the only social media network to face this issue, and impersonations violate many networks’ terms of service. But others have not taken technical steps to prevent it.
The new profile picture guard tool, which is being piloted in India, does four key things. It stops people from downloading your profile picture, or sharing it, or sending it in a Facebook message. It stops non-friends from tagging anyone including themselves in it. It stops people taking screenshots (where possible, which is only on Android smartphones at the moment). And it adds “a blue border and shield around your profile picture as a visual cue of protection.”
Currently, the feature is only available in India, as a test pilot, and could soon make its way to the rest of the world in the near future.