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Facebook issues new restrictions on harassment

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Facebook expanded its range of banned “attacks” on public figures (File)

San Francisco, United States of America:

Facebook on Wednesday unveiled fresh protections against online attacks on journalists, activists and celebrities as the social media giant grapples with a crisis over the potential pitfalls of its platform.

The company has faced criticism and Senate panel hearings after a whistleblower leaked internal studies showing Facebook knew its sites could be harmful to young people’s mental health.

Frances Haugen, a former employee of the company, alleged that the major social network made profits before protecting its users.

“We don’t allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does, we take action,” Facebook security chief Antigone Davis wrote in announcing the new security.

Facebook expanded its range of banned “attacks” on public figures to include multiple sexual or abusive images of their bodies.

Davis, who defended the company’s work in a hearing before lawmakers, said “such attacks can weaponize the appearance of a public figure.”

Facebook added journalists and human rights defenders to its list of people who are considered public figures because of their work.

The new policies appear to derail the government’s coordinated efforts to use multiple accounts to harass or intimidate people considered at increased risk of harm in the real world, such as dissidents and victims of violent tragedies.

Davis said Facebook would also begin removing state-linked and “adversarial networks” on the social network that “work together to harass or silence people” such as dissidents.

“We remove content that violates our policies and disables the accounts of people who repeatedly break our rules,” she wrote.

The document leaked by Haugen, which outlined a series of scathing Wall Street Journal stories, has fueled one of Facebook’s most serious woes to date.

In his testimony, Haugen noted the risks that the social media giant’s platforms are fueling political division and self-dissatisfaction that is especially dangerous for young people.

That hasn’t finished calling on the authorities to regulate the networks that the nearly three billion people worldwide visit every day.

European lawmakers have invited Haugen to a hearing and she was also due to meet with Facebook’s supervisory board, a semi-independent body responsible for evaluating the network’s content policies.

The leaked documents and Haugen’s testimony have drawn strong backlash from Facebook, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not said publicly whether he will accept an invitation from a Senate panel to answer his questions.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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