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Facebook announced changes in its regulations with the purpose of curb “sexualizing” harassment of public figures and coordinated bullying to people who “have a higher risk of harm offline.” The changes are released amid strong criticism of the US company, which is accused of prioritizing its economic interests over the safety of users, according to complaints filed by the former employee of the firm, Frances Haugen.

This update to Facebook policies prohibits postings with “sexual photoshopping” of celebrity photos, a group that includes entertainment figures, women and men in politics, content creators, and so on. Those responsible for the social network explained that they will eliminate profiles, pages, groups and events in which edited images or drawings that distort bodies and appearances are published to sexualize them. The same rule will be applied for comments in that direction, which will also be removed.

“Public figures, whether they are politicians, journalists, celebrities or creators, use Facebook and Instagram to interact directly with their followers. We made these changes because attacks like these can turn the appearance of a public figure into a weapon, which is unnecessary and often unrelated to the work that these public figures represent, ”said Antigone Davis, global director of security for the social network.

Changes to Facebook also apply to “common users”

The Facebook policy update also establishes penalties for coordinated attacks on users who have a “higher risk of harm offline”, even if the posts or messages do not violate the content policies of the platform.

It applies to Facebook and Instagram posts, and direct messages sent to people such as government dissidents or victims of violent attacks, he explains. The Verge.

Reaction to Frances Haugen’s complaint

As noted above, Facebook’s announcement occurs after the complaints from Frances Haugen, an engineer who worked at the company and leaked internal documents that revealed unethical behavior within the company. The former employee said that the firm was aware of the toxic effects of Instagram especially among teenagers, shed light on a program that groomed celebrities who violated the rules of the platforms, and stressed that executives who answer to Mark Zuckerberg privilege finances to the detriment of users’ well-being.

Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who denounced the company, in Congress in Washington on October 5, 2021. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee who denounced the company, in Congress in Washington on October 5, 2021. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

Haugen appeared on the public scene a few days ago on a network television program CBS, where she said that it was she who delivered Facebook documents to The Wall Street Journal, where previously reports based on these confidential data were published. The engineer then testified in the US Congress and is expected to do so in the UK Parliament later this month. Additionally, Haugen was summoned to an interview with Facebook’s Oversight Board, a semi-independent body that examines the company’s practices.

In this framework, the firm with headquarters in Palo Alto, California, has faced days full of inconveniences: last week it suffered blackouts in their services, in addition to the data leak of 1.5 million users of the social network, two events whose causes are supposed to be unrelated.

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