Microsoft updates its progress on reducing revenge porn

A while ago, Microsoft took a declarative position on the conversation surrounding revenge porn. Per the company’s search engine mandate, Microsoft would vigorously aid victims of revenge porn in their quests to remove personal photos and videos from Microsoft services.

 …our hope is that by helping to address requests and to remove these extremely personal photos and videos from our services, we can better support victims as they work to reclaim their privacy, and help to push just a little further in the fight against this despicable practice.”

Since the announcement, Microsoft has been offering transparency reports on how well the company has been handling take-down request from victims, with its aptly titled Transparency Hub. With a year’s work behind us, it’s time to see just how well Microsoft’s fight against revenge porn has fared.

According to Microsoft On the Issues blog,

In the first six months that Microsoft began removing links to photos and videos from search results in Bing, and blocking access to the actual content when shared on OneDrive or Xbox Live, we received a total of 537 requests for content takedowns via our dedicated web reporting page. Of those requests, 63 percent (338) were accepted and the remainder have been denied, largely because they were not, in fact, requests to remove non-consensual pornography.

When we remove links or content, we do so globally and, as promised last July, we started reporting these data in March. Removal requests for the six months ending June 2016 will be reported in September as part of our twice-annual Content Removal Requests Report, one of three such documents available at our Transparency Hub.

Since September, our web-reporting form has been available in 38 languages and 86 locales in which Microsoft does business. In April, we started receiving non-English-language takedown requests from victims in Germany and the Netherlands, and have since also received reports from victims in Brazil, Denmark, India and the U.K.”

Revenge Porn

Revenge Porn

As evident by Microsoft’s internal audit of its efforts, it appears that the company has done a decent job of addressing the issue within its services. However, it also appears the fight against revenge porn is far from over. Microsoft also notes that there has been an increasing momentum of offensive cases being documented, so much so that counter efforts are being sought outside of technological inferential handling and becoming a bi-partisan criminalizing effort.

Most recently, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) introduced a bipartisan bill criminalizing distribution of non-consensual pornography. Microsoft participated in California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ initiative, and we shared our approach to addressing non-consensual pornography in public forums, including The Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference last November.”

While, perhaps, Microsoft would love to tout a 90% plus achievement record on the removal and extinguish of revenge porn incidents within its services, the reality of a years’ worth of effort is that there is still much to be done.

To check the monthly stats on how much has been requested versus what Microsoft actually takes down, the public can visit the company’s Transparency Hub. If you or anyone you know has fallen victim to revenge porn incidents, Microsoft encourages you to seek information from the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative or Without My Consent. Be informed, be smart, and be safe out there on the internet.

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How do you judge Microsoft's efforts so far?