Facebook Pledges To Combat Online Hate

Social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) says it will expand its policies on harassment to remove more harmful content.

Under a more detailed harassment policy, Facebook says it will bar content that degrades or sexualizes public figures, including celebrities, elected officials and others in the public eye. Existing policies already prohibit similar content about private citizens.

Another change will add more protections from harassment to government dissidents, journalists and human rights activists around the world. In many nations, social media harassment has been used to silence journalists and political activists.

The tougher rules follow congressional testimony from a whistleblower who faulted the social media giant for not doing enough to stop online hate.

Lastly, the company, based in Menlo Park, California announced that it will ban all coordinated harassment, in which a group of individuals work together to bully another user. That change will apply to all users.

Facebook faces mounting criticism of the company's handling of hate speech, misinformation and negative content. Concerns about harassment range from teenagers bullying each other on Instagram to the coordinated abuse of journalists and dissidents by groups linked to authoritarian governments.

Former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen recently told Congress that the company has done too little to address its responsibility for spreading harmful content, and too often chooses profit over its users' best interests.