Facebook to Ban Content that Sexually Harasses Celebrities

Facebook to Ban Content that Sexually Harasses Celebrities
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Facebook to Ban Content that Sexually Harasses Celebrities

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Facebook announced Wednesday that it would begin removing "severe sexual content" targeting public figures as part of a new update to its bullying and harassment policies. It is also implementing new protections against mass harassment.

Facebook announced Wednesday that it would begin removing "severe sexual content" targeting public figures as part of a new update to its bullying and harassment policies. The policy changes also include coordinated harassment attacks against users.

As part of this new policy update, Facebook said it would remove any profile, page, group, or event dedicated to sexualizing public figures, including celebrities, politicians, and content creators. The new policy bans sexualized photoshops and drawings and any degrading content "in the process of bodily functions," Antigone Davis, Facebook's global security director, said in a blog post-Wednesday.

Facebook also said it would eliminate "unwanted sexualized comments" and repetitive attacks that sexually harass a person. "Public figures — whether they're politicians, journalists, celebrities or creators — use Facebook and Instagram to engage directly with their followers," Davis wrote in the Wednesday blog post. "We made these changes because attacks like these can weaponize a public figure's appearance, which is unnecessary and often not related to the work these public figures represent."

Facebook's policy announcement comes after whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress last week. Last Tuesday's hearing focused on a series of Wall Street Journal reports that revealed that Facebook executives were aware of the damage their platform could inflict on users, especially teenagers. Haugen is expected to testify before the UK Parliament later this month.

Wednesday's update also includes new language that prohibits large, coordinated attacks on users who are at "increased risk of harm offline," even if the posts or messages do not violate Facebook's content policies. This update includes Facebook and Instagram posts and direct messages sent to people such as government dissidents or victims of violent attacks.

Last month, Twitch added new tools to fight creator harassment on its platform, including phone number verification options for a chat. The streaming platform also announced changes to its email verification system to give creators more control over viewers using the chat. Users can have up to five accounts under a single phone number, limiting the number of accounts that can be created to harass a creator.

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