David Klepper | Associated Press
Facebook will expand its harassment policy to remove more malicious content, the company said Wednesday in its latest change following congressional testimony from a whistleblower who accused the social media giant of not doing enough to stop malicious content.
Facebook says it will prohibit content that degrades or sexualizes public figures, including celebrities, elected officials and others in the public eye, under a new, more detailed harassment policy. The existing rules already prohibit such content about individuals.
Another change will add more protection from harassment to dissidents in government, journalists and human rights defenders around the world. In many countries, social media harassment is used to silence journalists and activists.
Finally, the Menlo Park-based company announced that it will ban all coordinated harassment in which a group of individuals work together to intimidate another user. This change will apply to all users.
“We do not tolerate bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does, we take action,” Antigone Davis, head of global security at Facebook, wrote in her blog.
The change comes amid growing criticism of how the company handles hate speech, misinformation and negative content. Concerns about harassment range from teenage bullying of each other on Instagram to coordinated bullying of journalists and dissidents by groups associated with authoritarian governments.
Former Facebook data analyst Frances Haugen told Congress last week that the company has done too little to address its responsibility for distributing malicious content and too often prefers the benefit to the interests of its users.
A few days later, the company announced that it will introduce new features designed to protect children, including one that encourages them to take a break from the platform.
Celebrities, even those who make good money on Facebook and Instagram, don’t hesitate to criticize the company.
In an interview with The Associated Press earlier this year, singer and actress Selena Gomez said she began to pressure tech companies like Facebook to clean up their sites in 2017 after a 12-year-old boy commented on one of Gomez’s Instagram posts. : “Go kill yourself. … “
“It was a watershed moment,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I saw.”
Amanda Seitz from Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.