Facebook Testing Tools to Help People Lock Down Profile Photos

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Worried that someone is going to steal your Facebook profile photo and do all kinds of bad things with it? The social network wants to give you some peace of mind.

Facebook on Wednesday announced it has begun testing new tools in India to give privacy-conscious individuals more control over who can download and share their profile photos. The company said it hopes to expand the tools to other countries in the future, depending on what it learns from this pilot in India.

In a blog post, Facebook Product Manager Aarati Soman pointed out that profile photos are important because they help people find friends, but said not everyone feels safe adding one.

"In our research with people and safety organizations in India, we've heard that some women choose not to share profile pictures that include their faces anywhere on the Internet because they're concerned about what may happen to their photos," Soman wrote.

So now, if you live in India, you'll have the option to add a "profile picture guard," which will prevent other people from being able to download, share, or send your image in a message on Facebook. The guard will also prevent people from being able to take a screenshot of your profile photo on an Android device. Plus, randoms you're not even friends with on Facebook won't be able to tag anyone, including themselves, in the image. Finally, when you have this guard up, Facebook will display a blue border and shield around your profile photo as a "visual cue of protection," Soman wrote.

Meanwhile, Facebook is also exploring ways to let people more easily add designs to their profile pictures, which it says could be helpful in deterring misuse.


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"Based on preliminary tests, we've learned that when someone adds an extra design layer to their profile picture, other people are at least 75 percent less likely to copy that picture," Soman wrote.

The company has partnered with illustrator Jessica Singh, who created some designs, inspired by traditional Indian textiles, that people can now add to their profile photo.

"If someone suspects that a picture marked with one of these designs is being misused, they can report it to Facebook and we will use the design to help determine whether it should be removed from our community," she added.

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