Take It Down, tool to remove explicit images

Updated: Feb. 27, 2023 at 9:42 PM CST
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) -Once you send that photo, you can’t take it back...right? Well, what if you could?

According to the Pew Research Center, most teens spend 70 minutes a day on social media. There’s a lot that can happen during that time — mistakes or poor decisions you wish you could do-over.

That’s where “Take It Down” comes to play. The tool helps minors or their parents remove partially nude or sexually explicit images they don’t want circulating the world wide web.

Basically, the site lets anyone anonymously — and without uploading any actual images — create what’s essentially a digital fingerprint of the image.

This fingerprint, or a unique set of numbers called a “hash,” then goes into a database of participating tech companies that have agreed to remove the images from their platforms. So far that list includes: Only Fans, Yubo, Pornhub, Facebook and Instagram. If the image is on another site, or if it is sent in an encrypted platform such as WhatsApp, it will not be taken down.

In addition, if someone alters the original image — for instance, cropping it, adding an emoji or turning it into a meme — it becomes a new image and thus need a new hash. Images that are visually similar — such as the same photo with and without an Instagram filter, will have similar hashes, differing in just one character.

The idea behind the tech is to combat the rising problem of ‘sextortion,’ where children are coerced or deceived into sharing intimate images online, then threatened or blackmailed with the prospect of having those images published.

The timing of the tool comes as Big Tech is facing increasing pressure from lawmakers to do better when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable online — children.

The tool is operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and funded in part by Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook and Instagram.


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