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Facebook announces special harassment protections for journalists and “human rights defenders”

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Facebook has announced that it will “protect” journalists and human rights activists from abuse on the platform by classifying them as “involuntary” public figures. The classification means journalists and activists can more easily report users who “abuse” them.

The change in policy was announced by the social media giant’s head of global safety Antigone Davis in an interview with Reuters.

Davis said journalists and “human rights defenders” face a lot of harassment online because their jobs are public in nature.

Facebook did not share a list of journalists and activists who will be protected under the new policy. It said it will determine who will get the protection on a case-by-case basis.

Davis also said the company plans to further protect women, minorities, and the LGBT community by expanding its list of banned online harassment types.

The social media platform applied the “involuntary” public figure policy earlier this year to George Floyd, by announcing it would ban all content that made light of his death.

This news comes as the company is facing scrutiny following the testimony of former employee turned “whistleblower” Frances Haugen. In documents leaked to the Wall Street Journal, Haugen revealed Facebook’s double standards of allowing popular and famous users to get away with posting content that violates its policy.

Apparently, the company has a program called XCheck, under which 5.8 million public figures in 2020, including politicians, celebrities, and journalists, were allowed to post content that violated the community guidelines.

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