Microsoft has announced PhotoDNA, a free service based on the cloud that aims to help identify and remove photos like child porn for social media or photo sharing companies. According to the tech giant, about 720,000 of these “illegal” images are among the 1.8 billion pictures uploaded on the Internet each day, which has made it quite hard for service providers to find them so as to remove them. This new service will make that process easier.
Apparently it has already been used. According to Microsoft, social media giants, Facebook & Twitter have been using the service, alongside 70 other organizations. The service has a core mission: Help smaller organizations ensure the integrity of their platforms by scanning the photos being uploaded by their users, while still not limiting the freedom of the users to upload content.
Development of the platform began 6 years ago in conjunction with an Ivy League university, Dartmouth College to help the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) identify images of sexually abused children.
The perpetrators of this heinous act were able to keep the photos from being detected by making slight alterations. Now PhotoDNA is able to circumvent that obstacle where it converts the images into a grayscale format (black &white) then creating a grid and subsequently assigning a numerical value (hash) to each square in the picture. PhotoDNA now uses this “hash” to match the photo against a database of the already known illegal photos.
There is also a video Microsoft released that highlights the service in a better light: