Facebook seeks to improve its policy of protecting public figures from harassment, by expanding the parameters of who qualifies under such guidelines, and by extending protection conditions to people who might unknowingly find themselves in the spotlight.
First of all, Facebook seeks to provide individuals with greater protection from ‘brigadeing’, operationally known as hoarding or a ‘culture of cancellation’. Now that Facebook discovers that such incidents have gone too far, it will seek to provide greater security to those targeted.
According to Facebook:
“We will now remove coordinated mass harassment efforts targeting individuals at increased risk of offline harm, such as victims of violent tragedies or dissidents in government – even if the content itself would not violate our rules. We will also remove unwanted content that is considered mass harassment of any individual on personal surfaces, such as direct messages in the inbox or comments on personal profiles or posts. ”
The accumulation of websites has become an increasingly significant problem in recent years, and many people are now afraid to engage in certain discussions for fear of taking the wrong step and becoming the focus of hatred for that day or time. Such attacks can have a significant impact on reputation, and with the help of social media to increase exposure, it can also lead to major mental health impacts.
Extending this policy, however, could affect how people discuss trendy news – which, if such a situation escalates into harassment, should be. But it will be interesting to see how the process is applied in practice and what it means for this current engagement.
In addition, Facebook also wants to provide greater protection from special types of comments about public figures.
Facebook already has alternative guidelines for conducting comments regarding public figures, to facilitate freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse. But sometimes it can also turn into harmful territory, including sexual assaults, to which Facebook now wants to respond.
“Public figures should not be subjected to degrading or sexual assault. Based on feedback from a large number of global stakeholders, we will now also remove serious sexuality content, profiles, pages, groups or events dedicated to the sexualization of public figures, derosive, sexualized photographs and photoshopped drawings, aattacks through negative physical descriptions that are marked, mentioned or published on the account of a public figure, and degrading content depicting individuals in the process of bodily functions. ”
This could have significant impacts especially on women politicians, who regularly find themselves objectified on the basis of their appearance, far more than their male counterparts.
Finally, Facebook is also working to better protect them who inadvertently became public figures
“We will now offer additional protection to public figures, such as journalists and human rights defenders, who have become famous unintentionally or because of their work. These groups will now have protection from harmful content – for example, content that ranks their physical appearance, as do other unintentional public figures. “
Various public health officials would fall into this category as a result of the pandemic, and doctors and scientists were in the spotlight as a result of the need for information about the epidemic. Now Facebook will provide these people with additional considerations and protection, to ensure that they are also protected from unnecessary and unwanted comments.
Facebook has announced the changes as part of it National Day for the Prevention and Awareness Raising of Abuse in the U.S., amid growing demands for greater regulation of how Facebook influences public discourse and reinforces certain narratives and movements.
Within that, it’s important that Facebook provides protection wherever possible, and while there will be some variation and nuance in the application of these new policies, we should see more negative, derogatory discussions in the app.
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