Harassment | Facebook steps up the fight

(San Francisco) Facebook on Wednesday announced a tightening of its rules against online harassment, as the social media giant fights to convince authorities and public opinion of its positive role in society.

“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.

The Californian firm, already heavily criticized by many authorities and NGOs, saw its reputation again tarnished by the revelations of a whistleblower, a former engineer who leaked documents to the press and was auditioned by a US parliamentary committee.

According to Frances Haugen, Facebook and its applications, including Instagram, put “profits above safety” for 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.” .

The social network may also remove private messages or comments, depending on the context and additional information.

Facebook also wants to better protect public figures (politicians, celebrities …), 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 the 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.

The whistleblower notably showed that Facebook was aware of the dangers posed by its Instagram application 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 and she must also meet with the supervisory board. Facebook, an independent body of the group responsible for evaluating its content moderation policies.

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