Facebook is adopting new policies to address harassment against public figures : NPR

The Facebook logo of the US online social networking and social networking service is displayed on a laptop screen. Facebook has announced changes to its policies on online harassment.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images


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Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images


The Facebook logo of the US online social networking and social networking service is displayed on a laptop screen. Facebook has announced changes to its policies on online harassment.

Kirill Kudryavtsev / AFP via Getty Images

Facebook will expand its current harassment policies to further protect users from abuse and harmful content on the platform.

On Wednesday, the company announced would prohibit content that demeans or sexualizes public figures, such as elected officials, celebrities, activists, and journalists. This is based on current company policies that exist to protect ordinary users in the same way.

Facebook said in its announcement that it would remove “severe sexual content” and some other types of content used to sexually harass these public figures.

The company said: “Because what is ‘unwanted’ can be subjective, we will rely on the additional context of the person being abused to take action. We made these changes because attacks like these can turn the appearance of a public figure. on a weapon, which is unnecessary and often unrelated to the work these public figures represent. “

Under its new policy, Facebook will also eliminate coordinated mass bullying and harassment that comes from multiple users. Such targeted harassment campaigns are used to target government dissidents, the company said.

“We will also remove objectionable content that is considered mass harassment of any individual on personal surfaces, such as direct messages in the inbox or comments on personal profiles or posts,” Facebook said.

To combat those attacks, the social media platform will eliminate state-sponsored and linked organizations that use private groups to coordinate mass posts on profiles of government critics.

For example, Manal al-Sharif, a well-known activist who has lobbied for women to drive in Saudi Arabia, said in 2018 that she had to remove Twitter and Facebook due to harassment she faced from “pro-government mobs.” according to The Guardian.

Facebook has recently faced criticism as a result of the interview and testimony before the Congress of the complainant Frances Haugen. In addition to Haugen’s testimony, important reports from The Wall Street Journal, what did you use leaked collection documents, suggested that Facebook withheld research on the negative effects of its platform on adolescent mental health.

The company has said the investigation was taken out of context.

Concerns and allegations persist about the site’s inability or reluctance to address misinformation.

Haugen has testified that the company fuels division among users by allowing misinformation on the platform to go unchecked.

She has shared her opinion that Facebook’s algorithms could be stoking tensions and stoking ethnic violence, particularly in Ethiopia. The government of the country and the rebels of Tigray have been compromised in a civil war.

Hundreds of thousands of people are facing famine due to the conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels. Zecharias Zelalem, journalist covering the region and its conflict, I recently told NPR that “Prominent Facebook posters posted unverified, often inflammatory posts or rhetoric, which then incited mob violence, ethnic clashes, repression of the independent press, or open voices.”

“My fear is that without action, the divisive and extremist behaviors that we see today are just the beginning,” he added. Haugen told Congress. “What we saw in Myanmar and now we are seeing in Ethiopia that they are only the first chapters of a story so terrifying that nobody wants to read the end. ”

Editor’s note: Facebook is among the financial backers of NPR.

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