Facebook will expand its policies on harassment to remove more harmful content, the company said in its latest change on Wednesday following congressional testimony from a whistleblower who blamed the social media giant for not doing enough.
Under the new, more detailed harassment policy, Facebook says it will block content that degrades or sexually exploits public figures, including public figures, elected officials and others. Existing policies already prohibit similar content about private individuals.
Another change will provide protection from persecution to government dissidents, journalists and human rights activists around the world. In many countries, social media harassment has been used in efforts to silence journalists and activists.
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Finally, the company based in Menlo Park, Calif., announced that it would ban all coordinated harassment, in which a group of individuals work together to bully another user. This change will be applicable to all users.
“We don’t allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does, we take action,” Facebook’s global security chief Antigone Davis wrote in a blog post.
The changes come amid growing criticism of the company’s handling of hate speech, misinformation and negative content. Concerns about harassment range from teen bullying on Instagram to coordinated abuse of journalists and dissidents by groups affiliated with authoritarian governments.
Last week, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen told Congress that the company has done little to meet its responsibility to spread harmful content, and often chooses profit over the best interests of its users.
A few days later, the company announced that it would introduce new features designed to protect children, including one encouraging them to take breaks from the platform.
Celebrities, even those making decent profits from Facebook and Instagram, do not hesitate to criticize the company.
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In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year, singer and actress Selena Gomez said she asked tech companies like Facebook to clean up their sites in 2017 after the 12-year-old commented on one of Gomez’s Instagram posts. Started pressing: “Go kill yourself.”
“That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.”