Facebook Inc. will now count activists and journalists as “unwitting” public figures and thereby increase protections against harassment and intimidation targeting these groups, its head of global security said in an interview this week.
The social media company, which allows more critical comments on public figures than on individuals, changes its approach on harassment of journalists and “human rights defenders”, who it says are in the public eye by because of their work rather than their audience. characters.
Facebook is under close scrutiny by global lawmakers and regulators over its content moderation practices and harms related to its platforms, with internal documents leaked by a whistleblower forming the basis for a Senate hearing American last week.
How Facebook, which has approximately 2.8 billion monthly active users, treats public figures and the content posted by or about such figures has been the subject of intense debate. In recent weeks, the company’s “cross-checking” system, which the Wall Street Journal says has the effect of exempting some high-level users from the usual Facebook rules, has been in the spotlight.
Facebook also differentiates public figures from private individuals in the protections it offers around online chats: for example, users are generally allowed to call for the death of a celebrity in chats on the platform, as long as they do not tag or directly mention the celebrity. They cannot call for the death of an individual, or now a journalist, under Facebook policies.
The company declined to share a list of other unwitting public figures, but said they were assessed on a case-by-case basis. Earlier this year, Facebook said it would remove content celebrating, praising or mocking the death of George Floyd because he was seen as an unwitting public figure.
Facebook’s global chief security officer Antigone Davis said the company is also expanding the types of attacks it will not allow against public figures on its sites, as part of an effort to reduce attacks. attacks disproportionately faced by women, people of color and the LGBTQ community.
Facebook will no longer allow serious and unwanted sexualizing content, derogatory sexualized photoshopped images or drawings, or direct negative attacks on a person’s appearance, for example, in comments on a public figure’s profile.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England; additional reporting by Sheila Dang in Dallas; editing by Richard Pullin and Richard Chang)
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