Facebook unveiled new rules against online attacks on journalists, activists and celebrities on Wednesday (13), as the social media giant fights a crisis over the potential damage of its platforms.
Facebook’s director of security Antigone Davis has announced new protection policies. “We don’t allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it happens, we act,” he warned.
Facebook has expanded its range of prohibited “attacks” on public figures to include a series of sexual or degrading images of their bodies.
Davis, who defended the company’s work at a hearing before lawmakers, noted that “attacks like this can turn the appearance of a public figure into a weapon.”
Facebook also added journalists and human rights defenders to the list of people considered public figures for their work.
The new policies include impeding coordinated efforts to use multiple accounts to harass or intimidate people considered most at risk of harm in the real world, such as government dissidents and victims of violent tragedies.
Davis said Facebook will also begin to remove “oppositional networks” and state-linked networks that “work together to harass or silence people” such as dissidents.
“We remove content that violates our policies and deactivate the accounts of people who repeatedly violate our rules,” he wrote.
The company has faced a storm of criticism and a Senate hearing since Frances Haugen, a former employee, leaked internal studies showing Facebook knew its sites could be harmful to young people’s mental health.
The complainant alleged that the social network puts profits before the safety of its users.
Haugen’s leaked documents, which supported a series of hard-hitting Wall Street Journal stories, spawned one of Facebook’s most serious crises to date.
In his testimony, Haugen pointed to the risks that the social media giant’s platforms would fuel political division and personal dissatisfaction, which is particularly dangerous for young people.
Haugen has not given up on his intention to ask the authorities to regulate the network frequented daily by nearly three billion people around the world.
European lawmakers have invited Haugen to a hearing and are also expected to meet with Facebook’s supervisory board, a semi-independent body responsible for evaluating the network’s content policies.
The leaked documents and Haugen’s testimony drew strong resistance from Facebook, but its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has not publicly said whether he will accept an invitation from the Senate to answer his questions.
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