Facebook said on Wednesday it would begin banning “serious sexual content” targeting public figures and celebrities in an update to its policies on bullying and harassment.
According to this update, the company will remove profiles, pages, groups and events that sexualize public figures, including celebrities, journalists, politicians and content creators. The content covers retouched images, degrading images or designs and other degrading content “depicting individuals physically functioning,” wrote Antigone Davis, global head of security for Facebook.
“We made these changes because attacks like these can turn a public figure’s appearance into a weapon, which is unnecessary and often unrelated to the work these public figures represent,” Davis said in the message. “We also recognize that becoming a public figure is not always a choice and that this fame can increase the risk of bullying and harassment, especially if the person comes from an under-represented community, including women,” people of color or the LGBTQ community. “
The move follows Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony to Congress earlier in October, which increased pressure on regulators to rule over Big Tech and offer more protections to consumers, especially over concerns adolescents and children. Facebook internal research found Instagram was responsible for 32% of teenage girls in the app feeling bad about their bodies and worse using the photo sharing app. .
The revised policy will also cover what Facebook considers coordinated mass harassment, aimed at protecting those most at risk of harm offline. This could include victims of violent tragedies or government dissidents, the company said. Facebook will remove any objectionable content that it considers mass harassment of such individuals from their direct messages, comments or personal profile pages and posts.
Networks of state-linked and accusatory accounts, pages and groups that harass or silence individuals will also be removed.