Facebook has introduced a new feature designed to help a Facebook user stop others from sharing, downloading or copying their Facebook profile picture. But it has one significant drawback.
Called “Profile Picture Guard”, users who enable the feature will notice that other users cannot share, copy or download their profile picture, nor can other users tag themselves or others into it. When enabled, their profile picture becomes adorned with a blue border and shield icon.
The feature was in response to hearing that women in countries such as India avoid uploading images of their faces for fear that other users will steal their photos and even digitally manipulate them into compromising situations.
In theory, preventing others from taking your profile picture would also be a great way of preventing Facebook cloning scams where crooks create a duplicate Facebook account (using the account name and profile picture) of someone in order to trick their friends into accepting a friend request.
There is a pretty big problem, however. It won’t really work. While the feature will prevent users from – for example – right clicking an image and downloading it – nearly all users, including crooks, will be aware that a simple screenshot (a.k.a. screen capture) of the profile picture is still very possible and easy to do.
While that may not be possible on some Android devices, any PC for example will be more than capable of ‘screenshotting’ a profile picture. Meaning if a crook or spammer wants your Facebook profile picture enough, for whatever reason – be it to try and blackmail you or for a Facebook cloning scam – the “Profile Picture Guard” isn’t going to be that effective.
It’s a step in the right direction from Facebook and studies suggest that it may deter some people from copying your profile picture, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security. If you really, really don’t want a particular photo ending up in the wrong hands, the best advice is to simply avoid uploading it to social media altogether, and certainly don’t make it your profile picture.
The “Profile Picture Guard” feature is currently being rolled out to users starting with users in India.