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Keep your profile picture safe from copycats with Facebook's new tool

Crisis Response Hub
In our digital day and age, there are more ways than one to steal an identity. But one of the more jarring instances may just be finding a copycat Facebook profile, complete with your profile picture. While Facebook is all about you making friends, it does not want you to sacrifice your privacy in the process. Now, the social media giant is helping you fight back, and has unveiled a new feature that promises to give users “more control over who can download and share their profile pictures.”

The announcement comes just a few days after the company announced new ways to fight terrorist content online as well. Currently being piloted in India, the new tools were developed in partnership with Indian safety organizations, including Centre for Social ResearchLearning Links Foundation, Breakthrough India, and Youth Ki Awaaz. The goal, Facebook said, is to give individuals a greater degree of control over their online experience and furthermore, keep them safe.

“Profile pictures are an important part of building community on Facebook because they help people find friends and create meaningful connections,” wrote Aarati Soman, a product manager at Facebook. “But not everyone feels safe adding a profile picture. 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.”

So to keep them safe, Facebook is rolling out a new profile picture guard. If you opt into this feature, other users will not be able to download, share, or send your default photo in a message on Facebook. Furthermore, people you are not Facebook friends with won’t be able to tag anyone, including themselves, in your profile picture. Facebook is also going to try to prevent others from screenshotting your profile picture, a feature currently available only on Android devices. And finally, Facebook will display a blue border and shield around your profile picture to show that it is protected.

“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 said. So if you’re looking for ways to keep yourself safe on social media, you may want to start with your profile picture.

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Lulu Chang
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