Facebook just opened a new fight against “revenge porn.”
They just announced new tools to help users stop their intimate photos from being shared on Facebook without their permission — including images often used as “revenge porn,” according to Facebook.
Users can report images that appear to have been shared without permission, and Facebook representatives can remove the image if it violates their community standards. They can even disable the accounts of users who share these images without permission and stop them from being shared to Messenger and Instagram.
Still, even if those photos get taken down, Facebook itself still has it, because Facebook “collects all content you create, share or post in audio, video, text, images and other media or software files.” This also applies to Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.
Which raises the question … what are similar privacy standards like on other social media platforms?
What about Twitter?
Beginning in 2013, photos and videos could be shared via direct message on Twitter, and more recently, in 2016, tweets could be shared privately in direct messages — excluding private tweets. In other words, all public tweets are able to be sent privately to any user.
Currently, you can’t change the privacy settings once your tweet is posted.
Although Twitter has not yet gone as far as Facebook on preventing “revenge porn” and partnering with safety organizations, in 2015 Twitter added a new policy: “you may not post intimate photos or videos that were taken or distributed without the subject’s consent.”
And don’t forget, Twitter collects all tweets and direct messages.
And now, Snapchat lets users send others’ snapchats privately to friends.
Southern Methodist University graduate student Rachael Scruggs said she dislikes this new Snapchat feature. “People can now send my snapchats to other people who I don’t even communicate with, and it’s almost like they can see into my life without my permission,” Scruggs said.
Snapchat also lets users replay friends’ snaps — one time only.
Even if your five-second photo to your best friend disappears after being opened, Snapchat reserves the right to collect and keep content for a certain amount of time or retain certain information as required by law.
Snapchat also warns that users with jailbroken phones may be able to uncover doodles in stickers in snaps, which could possibly reveal something purposely covered up by the snap creator.
How much privacy is possible on social media, anyway?
“It is increasingly difficult to remain truly private on the Internet when our information technologies are with us all the time and are connected to a worldwide infrastructure of exchange,” Andrew Dillon, dean of the school of information at University of Texas at Austin, told USA TODAY College. “To attain real privacy, a user has to go to extraordinary lengths, often using specialized tools — and even then one has to remember to be careful.”
Privacy policies and safety measures aside, don’t underestimate the power of the screenshot or the lifespan of content posted on the Internet. Putting your account on “private” or blocking another user may not guarantee the safety of media you post. And after you delete something it may still exist on a server.
Dillon said such data rarely exists in one fixed place, and the ownership of this content can be complicated. “We tend to think of this type of instantaneous sharing a form of conversation,” he said. “In reality, it’s more like a form of publication.”
Do you care about social media privacy?
“My mom always says ‘don’t post anything out there that you wouldn’t want God or your momma to see,’” said UT-Austin junior Erin Chancy. She said she keeps most of her social media accounts public because she does not post anything inappropriate or offensive.
But Chancy believes privacy should be taken more seriously by Millennials and Gen Z, including herself.
“The concept of privacy is taken very lightly by most social media users, even myself,” Chancy said. “Sometimes social media users are sometimes pursued strangers when its unwanted. There are also hackers who can obtain private information. The only thing we can do is try to keep our information [on social media] more private.”
Social media is meant to be fun and to share and communicate with other users, but always be careful with the content you post. What you think might be private — or temporary — might not always be.
Brianna Stone is a USA TODAY College digital producer and a student at the University of Texas-Austin.