According to leaked community guidelines, Facebook is withholding protection from public figures, leaving them prone to potential death threats from other users. In comparison, the social network will protect private individuals from the same transgressions. As detailed by the leaked guidelines, the disparity is supposedly intended to allow for discussion and criticism of public figures.
Facebook is already facing scrutiny about how it handles misinformation, with its policies being less quickly enforced than those of other social media platforms. In addition, there are ongoing questions about its privacy practices, on which there has been greater focus of late due to the company’s difference of opinions on the matter with Apple. While the leaked guidelines are not directly to do with misinformation or privacy, they still deal with how Facebook handles content on its site and they shine a light on another area in which its content policies are being called into question.
As reported by the Guardian, Facebook’s guidelines implement laxer policies on personal attacks against public figures “because we want to allow discussion, which often includes critical commentary of people who are featured in the news.” Under the rules, Facebook users can post death threats against public figures without repercussions from Facebook’s moderators. The site will only regulate against the most severe threats and if the figure was tagged. In comparison, private users without much of a following are protected against lesser threats like defamation. Though the 300-page document has a few guidelines on what differentiates a private individual from a public figure, Facebook has still withheld a more precise list of who it considers a public figure.
Why Facebook’s Policies Are Bad For Everyone
Even though the policies offer less protection for public figures, they can potentially affect private users as well. Implementing a more general definition of who constitutes a public figure can dissuade public figures from using social media, for example. Laxer rules to do with public figures could also encourage more hostile behavior among other users, as people are seen to be getting away with more extreme targeting than onlookers might otherwise have engaged in. For other users commenting on the posts of public figures, meanwhile, having hostile threats rise to the top might detract from or bury any actual conversation happening in the comments section.
To exacerbate the problem, Facebook also has a lenient classification on who it considers such a figure. For example, journalists can be considered public figures, or simply individuals with social media followings of over 100,000. Some public figures have already quit social media due to abuse and the emergence of guidelines showing that Facebook will offer them less protection than private individuals could well accelerate that.
Source: The Guardian
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Original posted at screenrant.com