Facebook Makes Changes to Harassment Policy to Eliminate Harmful Content Towards Public Figures

Yesterday, Facebook announced that it would broaden its harassment policy to eliminate harmful content to protect public figures.

The new harassment policy will ban content that degrades or sexualizes public figures, such as celebrities and elected officials who are in the public eye. Similar information about private individuals is already prohibited under existing regulations.

In addition to the new and existing regulations, Facebook will give government officials, journalists, and human rights advocates around the world increased security from harassment. The harassment of journalists and activists on social media has been used in several countries to silence them.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s head of global safety, wrote in a blog post: “We do not allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does happen, we act.”

The revisions come as the company faces increasing criticism for its handling of hate speech, misinformation, and negative content. Concerns about harassment vary from teens bullying one other on Instagram to groups tied to authoritarian governments targeting journalists and activists.

Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen testified before Congress last week that the business has done too little to address its role in the spread of harmful content, and that it frequently prioritizes profit over its users’ best interests.

A few days later following the testimony from the whistleblower, Facebook introduced new tools aimed at protecting children, including one feature that encourages teens to take a break from the platform.

Celebrities, including influencers who profit from Facebook and Instagram, have been vocal in their criticisms.

Earlier this year, Selena Gomez told The Associated Press that she began pressuring social media giants to clean up their sites in 2017 after a 12-year-old commented on one of her Instagram pics, “Go kill yourself.”

“That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.”

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