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Facebook to treat journalists and activists like public figures to limit harassment and intimidation


Besieged tech giant Facebook will view activists and journalists as ‘unwitting’ public figures in an effort to limit harassment and intimidation against them on the social media platform – but what activists and journalists will benefit is cloudy.

Facebook’s “bullying and harassment policy distinguishes between public figures and individuals to allow free speech and legitimate public discourse around those in the public eye,” according to the global head of the Facebook security, Antigone Davis.

“Public figures should not be subjected to degrading or sexualized attacks,” Davis added, noting that Facebook would now remove serious sexualized content, derogatory or sexualized photos and drawings, attacks by negative physical descriptions and content. degrading depicting individuals in the process. bodily functions.

The company will change the way it treats “unwitting” public figures, including activists and journalists, to offer them more protection in the future.

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“We also recognize that becoming a public figure is not always a choice and that fame can increase the risk of bullying and harassment, especially if the person comes from an under-represented community, including women, people of color or the LGBTQ community. In line with our corporate human rights policy commitments, we will now offer more protections to public figures such as journalists and human rights defenders who have unintentionally or become famous because of their work, ”Davis wrote.

“These groups will now have protections against harmful content, such as content that categorizes their physical appearance, as do other unintentional public figures,” Davis continued.

However, it is not clear whether all journalists and activists will be treated equally or who decides which journalists and activists are treated as public figures.

“The company declined to share a list of other unwitting public figures, but said they were assessed on a case-by-case basis,” Reuters reported.

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When asked who decides which activists and journalists are treated as public figures, a Facebook spokesperson provided Davis’ blog post to Fox News Digital, which does not explain whether all journalists and activists will be treated in the same way.

“In updating our policies, we consulted a diverse set of global stakeholders, including freedom of expression advocates, human rights experts, women’s safety groups and our advisers. women safety experts, cartoonists and satirists, women politicians and journalists, representatives of the LGBTIQ + community, content creators. and public figures. We will continue to work with experts and listen to members of our community to keep our platforms secure, ”Davis wrote.

Facebook did not immediately respond when asked how it would define journalists and activists.

Facebook has come under a microscope in recent weeks after whistleblower Frances Haugen lambasted her former employer in Congress and over “60 minutes.” Haugen has released documents showing what she called proof that the company puts profits above user well-being through its algorithms.

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David Rutz of Fox News contributed to this report.