On National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Day, Facebook updated its policies to better protect vulnerable users and public figures.
On National Bullying Prevention and Awareness Day in the US last week, Facebook announced the latest updates to its bullying and harassment policies and introduced guidelines to help protect people from mass harassment and intimidation.
In addition, the company’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, says that Facebook can now remove more harmful content directed at public figures and provide more protection to those who became famous involuntarily – like human rights defenders or journalists.
The social media giant updated its global bullying and harassment policies by launching a new approach to protect those exposed to mass harassment and intimidation from multiple accounts.
As part of this, it will now remove all coordinated efforts of mass harassment that target people who are at safety risk IRL, such as victims of violent tragedies or government dissidents, and it will do so even if the content is not in direct violation of its policies; or if the content is objectionable, but considered mass harassment towards any individual.
Examples of this last instance include messages in users’ inboxes or comments on personal profiles or posts. In addition, state-linked and adversarial networks of accounts, Pages, and Groups that work together to harass or silence people will also get the ax.
When it comes to applying bullying and harassment policy, Facebook differentiates between private individuals and public figures. It treats this last category differently to allow a degree of open dialogue about them and preserve freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse.
To strike the right balance between freedom of expression and harassment prevention, Facebook currently removes those attacks on public figures that encompass a wide range of harms. But now, it is also removing all severe sexualizing content and any account, page, group, or event built around this purpose.
Similarly, all derogatory, sexualized photoshopped images and drawings and attacks through negative physical descriptions that tag public figures will also be deleted, together with degrading content depicting individuals in the process of bodily functions.
Finally, Facebook’s moderation will take a particularly protective stance towards those who became famous “involuntarily” – mainly if they come from an underrepresented community like women, people of color, or the LGBTQ community.
Journalists and human rights defenders who have become famous involuntarily or because of their work will now have protections from harmful content.