Facebook will consider activists and journalists as “involuntary” public figures and give them protections against harassment and bullying online, which could make it more difficult for Facebook users to criticize them. Krasnoyarsk, Russia – June 13, 2011: Facebook main webpage on Google Chrome browser on LCD screen (iStock)
Facebook to protect journalists and human rights activists from harassment
Nihal Krishan October 13, 03:52 PM October 13, 03:52 PM
Facebook will consider activists and journalists as “involuntary” public figures and give them protections against harassment and bullying online, which could make it more difficult for Facebook users to criticize them.
Facebook is shifting how it approaches the harassment of journalists and “human rights defenders,” who it says are forced to face significant online scrutiny due to their jobs being public in nature, the social media company’s global safety chief said in a Reuters interview.
Facebook’s global head of safety, Antigone Davis, said that the company was also expanding the types of online harassment that it would ban, primarily to reduce attacks disproportionately suffered by women, minorities, and gay and transgender users.
Facebook, which has 2.8 million active users, has not shared the list of journalists and activists that will be classified as involuntary public figures. Instead, the company said it will decide who needs increased protections on a case-by-case basis.
The company said earlier this year that it would censor all content on the platform that celebrated, cheered, or mocked George Floyd’s death because he was deemed to be an involuntary public figure.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of senators called for Facebook to be subpoenaed and forced to turn over internal company research and data regarding revelations of the company’s harmful effects provided by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
The California-based company has maintained a double standard in allowing millions of its most famous and elite users, including former President Donald Trump, get away with breaking its content moderation rules.
Under a special program known as XCheck, 5.8 million VIP users in 2020, including a number of high-profile celebrities, politicians, and journalists, were granted immunity from Facebook’s enforcement actions and allowed to post rule-violating content that would get normal users banned or censored on the platform, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Trump, for example, was allowed to call refugees seeking asylum “animals,” among other violations, according to internal Facebook documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal. Other VIP users were able to share misinformation, including posts claiming that COVID-19 vaccines are lethal and that Hillary Clinton was involved in hidden “pedophile rings,” that would typically lead to punishments for regular users.
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