Facebook steps up its fight against online harassment

Posted on Oct 14, 2021 8:39 AM

Facebook takes a new turn against harassment on its platforms. The Californian firm, announced on Wednesday, in particular to strengthen its arsenal against mass harassment.

“We do not allow harassment on our platform and when it happens, we act,” said Antigone Davis, director of security for the group, in a statement.

Mass harassment

The social media giant has been fighting for several weeks to convince the authorities and public opinion of its positive role in society. Facebook, already heavily criticized by many authorities and NGOs, saw its reputation again tarnished by the revelations of Frances Haugen, a former engineer who leaked documents to the press and was heard by an American parliamentary committee. According to the whistleblower, Facebook and its applications, including Instagram, put “profits before safety” of users.

The company now plans to tackle “coordinated mass harassment efforts targeting particularly vulnerable individuals in the real world, such as victims of violent tragedies or political dissidents – even if the content itself does not violate our policy.” . Facebook may also remove private messages or comments, depending on the context and additional information.

Protect politicians, journalists and human rights defenders

The company also wants to better protect public figures (politicians, celebrities, etc.), by adding a new category to the list of bans, which mainly revolve around the sexualization of these people. “We will remove sexualizing comments that amount to harassment,” based on the context provided by the individuals, Antigone Davis said.

The platform also added to public figures journalists and human rights defenders who have become famous for their work. They will now be “protected from offensive content, for example messages that classify them according to their physical appearance,” said Antigone Davis. She herself answered the questions of American elected officials during a hearing in the wake of the revelations of Frances Haugen.

This notably showed that Facebook was aware of the dangers of Instagram for the mental and physical health of teenage girls, overexposed to the myth of the ideal female body.

And she has not finished calling for the regulation of the network frequented daily by nearly 3 billion people around the world: European parliamentarians have invited her to a hearing. It must also meet with the supervisory board of Facebook, an independent body of the group responsible for evaluating its content moderation policies.

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