Facebook is changing the rules around profile pictures

As well as throwing its weight behind groups challenging extremist content , Facebook is also taking steps to safeguard profile pictures.

The company has announced changes – starting in India – that will limit ways to copy a profile picture. The idea is to give users more control over their image and stop it being taken or misused without their consent.

India was chosen as the testbed because image theft is more prevalent there – but Facebook could well decide to roll the new features out worldwide if they prove successful.

“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,” explained Aarati Soman, a Product Manager at Facebook.

The new measures include stopping downloads or sharing of profile pictures in Facebook Messenger, stopping the ability to take a screenshot on an Android phone and putting a blue border around the picture as a visual deterrent.

According to Facebook, adding an overlay to a picture made people “at least 75% less likely to copy that picture.”

Facebook has given users in India a step-by-step guide to adding these guards to their profile pictures.

“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,” said Soman.

“Based on what we learn from our experience in India, we hope to expand to other countries soon.”