Commentary

Facebook Ups Protections Against Bullies, Harassers

Facebook knows it needs to do a better job protecting users from cyberbullies — especially young people.

A recent survey from Pew Research Center found that 59% of teens say they have been the target of online bullies, while 63% say it is a major problem for people their age. In response, Facebook is rolling out some new tools and programs to help users feel safer on its flagship property.

“We are giving you more control over how people interact with your posts on Facebook because comments can sometimes be used to bully or harass people,” Antigone Davis, global head of safety, Facebook, promises in a new blog post.

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Among other changes, users will soon be able to hide or delete multiple comments at once from the options menu of their posts. If people see friends or family members being bullied or harassed, they can now report the activity on their loved one’s behalf.

Once reported, Facebook’s Community Operations team should review the post, and -- while keeping the report anonymous -- determine whether it violates the company’s Community Standards.

Giving the accused further recourse, users who have been branded as bullies and harassers can now appeal those decisions.

Facebook already lets users request additional review after their content is taken down for violating the company’s Community Standards for nudity, sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence.

“We have now extended these reviews to bullying and harassment violations,” Davis confirmed. “This means that if your content has been taken down for bullying or harassment, you will have the opportunity to request another review.”

Additionally, users who believe they been bullied or harassed can now appeal decisions they feel don’t reflect that reality.  

“If you’ve reported a piece of content for bullying or harassment, and we don’t take it down after our initial review, you’ll soon be able to ask for a second review if you think we made a mistake,” according to Davis.

For Facebook, such changes remain ongoing.

Earlier this year, for example, the tech titan expanded its policies to guard against the harassment of young public figures on Facebook. In the coming weeks, the company plans to expand its policies to better protect public figures against harassment regardless of age.

Facebook also recently entered into a partnership with the National Parent Teachers Association to facilitate 200 community events in cities in every U.S. state.

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