Facebook Launches Privacy Tool for Profile Pictures

Facebook is launching new tools that give people in Pakistan more control over who can download/share their profile pictures, also adding a design to profile pictures to deter misuse.

Profile pictures are an important part of community building on Facebook because they help people find friends and create meaningful connections. But not everyone feels safe adding a profile picture. According to Facebook’s research with people and safety organizations, 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.


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These privacy tools are being used widely in India. This tool is expanding to additional countries (including Pakistan) where, similar to India, people want more control over their profile pictures. In addition, Facebook says that they are exploring ways people can more easily add designs to profile pictures, which their research has shown to be helpful in deterring misuse.

New Controls

People will start seeing a step-by-step guide to add an optional profile picture guard. When you add this guard:

  • Facebook’s download and share features will be disabled for your profile picture.
  • People you’re not friends with on Facebook won’t be able to tag anyone, including themselves, in your profile picture.
  • It will prevent Android devices from taking a screenshot of your profile picture on Facebook.
  • A blue border and shield around will be displayed around your profile picture as a visual cue of protection.

Nashwa Aly, Head of Policy, Middle East and Africa, Facebook says,

Profile pictures are an important part of building community on Facebook because they help people find friends and create meaningful connections. But not everyone feels safe adding a profile picture. In Pakistan, we’ve heard that people want more control over their profile pictures, and we’ve been working over the past year to understand how we can help. This launch is part of our ongoing commitment to keeping people safe online.

Nighat Dad, Digital Rights Foundation adds,

Statistics from our Cyber Harassment Helpline, show that women are the most vulnerable when it comes to online safety in Pakistan. From fake profiles to doctored images to harassment, women face very real risks online. Facebook’s new Profile Picture Guard is a great tool to help women reclaim their online space. It will let women take control of their identities online and help them them to start a larger discourse of countering online gendered harassment.


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