San Francisco, United States:
Facebook on Wednesday unveiled new protections against online attacks against journalists, activists and celebrities as the social media giant battles a crisis over the potential damage to its platforms.
The company has faced a storm of criticism and a Senate panel hearing since a whistleblower disclosed internal studies showing Facebook knew its sites could be harmful to the mental health of young people.
Frances Haugen, a former employee of the company, said the main social network puts profits above the safety of its users.
Facebook chief security officer Antigone Davis announced the new protections, writing “we don’t allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it happens we take action.”
Facebook has broadened its range of prohibited “attacks” against public figures to include a range of sexual or degrading images of their bodies.
Davis, who has defended the company’s work in a hearing before lawmakers, said “attacks like these can turn a public figure’s appearance into a weapon.”
Facebook has also added journalists and human rights defenders to the list of people considered public figures because of their work.
The new policies included the derailment of coordinated efforts to use multiple accounts to harass or intimidate those considered to be at increased risk of real-world harm, such as government dissidents and victims of violent tragedies.
Davis said Facebook will also start removing state-linked “accusatory networks” on the social network 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 break our rules,” she wrote.
The documents leaked by Haugen, which underpinned a series of scathing Wall Street Journal stories, fueled one of Facebook’s most serious crises to date.
In her testimony, Haugen noted the risks of the social media giant’s platforms fueling the political divide and self-dissatisfaction that are particularly dangerous for young people.
She has not finished calling on the authorities to regulate the network frequented daily by nearly three billion people around the world.
EU lawmakers invited Haugen to a hearing and she was also due to meet with the supervisory board of Facebook, a semi-independent body responsible for evaluating the network’s content policies.
The leaked documents and Haugen’s testimony sparked strong reluctance from Facebook, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not publicly stated whether he will accept the invitation of a Senate panel to answer their questions.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by DAILYNEWSCATCH staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)