Twitter Plans to Fight Child Porn Using Microsoft’s PhotoDNA Technology

By: John Nedelcu
3 minute read

Following Facebook, Twitter has opted to use Microsoft’s free photo tracking technology, PhotoDNA, to seek out and block “extreme pornography”, with a special attention to child pornography. The decision that Twitter took will make the social network a safer place for kids and will regulate all photos that are shown on the network.

Twitter’s plan was made public in an article from The Guardian where we learnt that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, is trying to regulate extreme pornography by requesting all ISPs to install filters that cannot be turned off by anyone except the account holder. This measure will also restrict kids’ access to online pornography.

Microsoft’s PhotoDNA to Keep Twitter Safe of child porn

twitter child porn microsoft

Twitter will be implementing the technology that Microsoft developed exactly for this purpose, to analyze and tag all the photos that run through the social network. This measure will be implemented by the end of the year and it will affect all pornography related pictures that are currently circulating on Twitter.

The battle against illegal pornography is slowly but surely moving forward as social networks and governments are limiting access to this type of material. More countries should take the UK’s example and create stricter laws against all kinds of extreme pornography.

David Cameron stated that not only social networks should implement these measures, but also search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo!

You’re the people who have worked out how to map almost every inch of the Earth from space; who have developed algorithms that make sense of vast quantities of information. Set your greatest brains to work on this. You are not separate from our society, you are part of our society, and you must play a responsible role in it.

Twitter’s move has come independently of the UK’s decision to regulate illegal online pornography, being a necessary step as the networks has millions of photos shared week, The Guardian informs us. This service will analyze every image when it is posted, and it will compare it with a database of flagged child abuse photos. This will allow the system to filter out any image that contains inappropriate content.

Twitter’s Senior Director, Del Harvey, is very happy that Twitter will be implementing Microsoft’s PhotoDNA technology, as he commented on the matter:

One of the most exciting things that we’re working on is implementing PhotoDNA […]It’s really fantastic that we’re making progress on getting that in place. And it’s good that others in the industry are working on it, or on implementing it, because this is one of those areas which is not about competition, it’s about co-operation. We’re trying to keep the user safe

How Microsoft’s PhotoDNA works

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Microsoft’s PhotoDNA was developed with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and with constant upgrades and fine tuning, it has become an industry standard in photography analysis. The system works by creating a black and white version of the photo, resizing it and then breaking it down to smaller chunks.

Each of these piece has its own histogram, like a digital fingerprint, which will remain the same even after the photo has been modified. This information will be matched to other images and when similarities appear, the system will flag that image as having inappropriate content.

via: The Guardian

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