Facebook is planning to expand its harassment policies under which the company will remove more harmful content, its latest announcement of change following congressional testimony from a whistleblower who faulted the social media giant for not doing enough to stop harmful content.
According to the new, more detailed harassment policy, Facebook will ban 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 individuals, the Associated Press reported.
More protections from harassment to government dissidents, journalists, and human rights activists around the world will be added. In many nations, social media harassment has been used in efforts to silence journalists and activists.
The tech giant also 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.
"We do not allow bullying and harassment on our platform, but when it does happen, we act," Antigone Davis, Facebook's head of global safety, wrote in a blog post, according to the Associated Press.
The company has made these changes as it faces mounting criticism of its 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.
Last week, former Facebook data scientist Frances Haugen 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.
Days later, the company announced that it would introduce new features designed to protect kids, including one encouraging them to take a break from the platform.
Celebrities, even those who profit handsomely off Facebook and Instagram, haven't been shy about criticizing the company.
Singer and actress Selena Gomez had revealed in an interview earlier this year with the Associated Press that she began pressing tech companies like Facebook to clean up their sites in 2017 after a 12-year-old told her to kill herself on one of her Instagram posts.
"That was my tipping point. I couldn't handle what I was seeing," she said.
(With AP inputs)