Facebook will increase protection against harassment for activists and journalists

13 oct (Reuters) – Facebook will now consider activists and journalists as “unwitting” public figures and therefore will increase protections against harassment and intimidation against these groups, their head of global security said in an interview this week.

The social media company, which allows more critical comments from public figures than individuals, says it is shifting its focus on harassing journalists and “human rights defenders,” who it says are in the public eye because of their work rather than being public figures.

Facebook is under wide scrutiny from global lawmakers and regulators over its content moderation practices and harms linked to its platforms, and internal documents leaked by a whistleblower were the basis for a US Senate hearing last week. pass.

How Facebook, which has around 2.8 billion monthly active users, treats public figures and the content posted by or about them has been an area of ​​intense debate.

In recent weeks, the company’s “cross-checking” system, which the Wall Street Journal reported has the effect of exempting some high-profile users from Facebook’s usual rules, has been in the spotlight.

Facebook also distinguishes between public figures and private individuals in the protections it provides around online discussions: For example, users can generally call for the death of a celebrity in discussions on the platform.

The company declined to share a list of other unwitting public figures, but said they are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Earlier this year, Facebook said it would remove content celebrating, praising or mocking George Floyd’s death, because he was seen as an unwitting public figure.

Facebook will no longer allow severe and unwanted sexualizing content, derogatory pictures or drawings sexualized with Photoshop, or direct negative attacks on a person’s appearance, for example, in comments on a public figure’s profile.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in Birmingham, England; Additional information from Sheila Dang in Dallas. Edited in Spanish by Rodrigo Charme)

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