Facebook will treat journalists, activists as public figures to limit harassment and bullying

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Facebook says it determines who qualifies as an ‘involuntary public figure’ on a case-by-case basis

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The tech giant will consider Facebook activists and journalists “involuntary” public figures for limited harassment and bullying against them on the social media platform, the company announced on Wednesday.

According to Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Facebook’s “bullying and harassment policy differentiates between public figures and private individuals to enable freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse in the public eye.” Antigone Davis.

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“Public figures should not be subjected to abusive or sexual assaults,” Davis said, noting that Facebook will now remove serious sexual content, abusive or sexually photoshopped images and images, attacks through negative physical descriptions. and will remove abusive content portraying individuals in the process. of bodily functions.

The company will change the way it handles “involuntary” public figures, including activists and journalists, to give them more protection.

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“We also recognize that becoming a public figure is not always an option, and that fame can increase the risk of bullying and harassment – ​​especially if the person comes from an underrepresented community, which includes women, people of color or LGBTQ communities are involved. In line with the commitments made in our Corporate Human Rights Policy, we will now provide more protections for public figures such as journalists and human rights defenders who have become famous involuntarily or because of their work,” Davis wrote .

Davis continued, “These groups will now have protection from harmful material, for example content that rankles their physical form, as do other involuntary public figures.” “In updating our policies, we have addressed a diverse group of global stakeholders including free speech advocates, human rights experts, women’s safety groups and our women’s safety expert advisors, cartoonists and satirists, female politicians and journalists, representatives of the LGBTIQ+ community, content creators and public figures.”

Facebook will determine who is eligible as an involuntary public figure on a case-by-case basis by its policy team.

“The policy team will assess an involuntary public figure’s engagement with fame on a case-by-case basis, analyzing social media presence (which can include things like high fan counts, verification), or through their ongoing The individual’s engagement with fame is media engagement and public speaking,” a Facebook spokesperson told Granthshala News.

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When asked by Granthshala News how Facebook would define journalists, a spokesperson offered the following explanation.

“A journalist is defined as someone who is currently employed by a newspaper, news website, or magazine to write for the public; or any person who is actively involved in a newspaper, news website, or magazine publishes content for; or any person who broadcasts news on radio or television. or any person dedicated to writing or disseminating news independently on social media/blog/website/podcast,” said a Facebook spokesperson .

According to the spokesperson, for activists, Facebook considers them to be “directly associated with any cause or civil society organization or that actively participates in political, human rights or social discourse”.

Facebook has been under a microscope in recent weeks after whistleblower Frances Haugen blasted her former employer before Congress and on “60 Minutes.” Haugen released documents showing that the company puts profits before the well-being of the user through its algorithms.

Granthshala News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.


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