Meta's supervisory board says Facebook must change its doxing rules

HomeNewsMeta's supervisory board says Facebook must change its doxing rules
Meta's supervisory board says Facebook must change its doxing rules

Back in April 2021, Facebook (now Meta) asked its independent supervisory board to consider the issue of sharing users' private residential information on Facebook and Instagram. The supervisory board has since published its thoughts on the matter and states that, among other things, Facebook should stop making exceptions for posts that share home addresses or pictures of private homes.

Facebook's current privacy policy gives some leeway for posts that share someone's private information, provided the details were previously made available to the public "through news coverage, court filings, press releases or other sources."

Similarly, Meta's content reviewers have been told that if someone's private information has been shared by five or more news outlets, it should be considered public information. An example given by the Oversight Board is that if someone's address meets Facebook's criteria for being "publicly available," photos identifying that person with the address will be considered admissible.

It is important to note that at the moment these are suggestions given for Meta and Facebook, not confirmed changes. While it is possible that we will see some (or all) of these recommendations implemented at some point in the future, it is not guaranteed.

Meta's recommendations detailed

Removing the exemption for "publicly available" private information is the Oversight Board's primary recommendation, but other changes are also proposed. The board believes Facebook should maintain consistency with the "newsworthiness" exception by creating rules for its content reviewers that ensure they know when to escalate content that may violate the platform's community standards, but which may also still qualify for the "newsworthiness" exception.

It is also proposed to provide users with a way to quickly (and effectively) report posts that share their private information and request its removal, along with the recommendation that Facebook explain both its Community Standards and Privacy Policy more clearly as they apply to sharing of private information.

The Supervisory Board proposes further exceptions for the sharing of private information. Assuming these exemptions are implemented, users will be allowed to share photos of a private residence if the property is the focus of a story, if it is the publicly owned official residence of a political figure as a means of protest organization, or if it is the user's own private residence.

Beyond that, the supervisory board also suggests that Facebook strengthen its enforcement policies by allowing users to add context to their claims, and create a contact channel specifically for victims of doxing that is accessible to anyone regardless of whether they use the platform itself or not.

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