Facebook is trying to curb “catfishing,” the practice of using someone else’s photo to deceive others on social media.

The company is introducing new security features in India, and they hope to extend these features to the rest of the world after a trial period.

The social media giant discovered that many instances of catfishing occur by people downloading profile pictures from their site. This has led to some not feeling safe uploading their photo in the first place.

To make users feel more secure, Facebook has changed the way profile pictures work.

It is no longer possible to download, share, or send a profile photo in a message. Many catfishers simply find an attractive profile pic, download it, and create a new account with it. This will no longer be possible in India.

image
Facebook Safety

Another limiting control is that people you’re not friends with won’t be able to tag anyone in a profile photo. Again, the company is trying to make it a hassle to quickly grab a photo to deceive others.

Facebook is even employing new technology to prevent taking a screenshot of profile photos.

Profile pics that are protected by this technology will have a blue border around them to signify they are secure.

image
Social Samosa

Facebook released the following statement to explain the added security measures. The statement read, “Part of our goal in building global community is understanding the needs of people who use Facebook in specific countries and how we can better serve them. In India, we’ve heard that people want more control over their profile pictures, and we’ve been working over the past year to understand how we can help.”

The security measures aren’t foolproof, but they are meant to deter people from easily using photos that do not belong to them. 

New Design Layers

One of the more exciting aspects of the anti-catfishing campaign is what the company calls design layers. Facebook partnered with Indian artist Jessica Singh to add traditional Indian textile designs to the background of profile pics.

If a person manages to get past the security features and download someone else’s profile pic, there’s an easy way to find them.

Once a user reports that their profile pic has been stolen, Facebook can simply search for the unique design layer that was added to the profile pic.

The company can quickly locate the account that stole the profile photo. Because they can easily determine who the original photo belongs to, they can expedite the process of deleting the catfisher account.

image
Facebook

Facebook knows that this will not completely end the deceptive practice. However, preliminary studies showed that by adding security layers, potential catfishers are 75 percent less likely to use a photo.

However, preliminary studies showed that by adding security layers, potential catfishers are 75 percent less likely to use a photo.

That statistic should bring some comfort to those who don’t want to lose control of their photos and unwillingly participate in a deceptive situation. 

You can think of the measures as similar to posting a security alarm sign in your front yard.

The sign doesn’t make your house invulnerable, but it signals to thieves that you take security more seriously than the average person. 

image
Locksmith

If the security measures succeed in India, Facebook plans to roll them out to the general public. This likely won’t be the last security features they’ll have to implement, but it’s a good start in protecting innocent users from deceptive strangers.