Tighter security, safety from sexualized attacks: Meta gears up for Halalan 2022

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2022 04:27 PM | Updated as of Mar 02 2022 04:42 PM

A visitor takes picture of billboard sign featuring a new logo and name 'Meta' in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, USA, 29 October 2021. John Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/File
A visitor takes picture of billboard sign featuring a new logo and name 'Meta' in front of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, USA, 29 October 2021. John Mabanglo/EPA-EFE/File

MANILA - Meta, the operator of Facebook and other social apps, on Wednesday said it has made the safety and protection features on its platforms "stronger", especially for public figures, celebrities, journalists, women and others who are prone to online harassment in the run-up to Halalan 2022.

In the Philippines, Meta said it has launched Facebook Protect, which is focused on helping candidates, elected officials, political parties, and their staff secure their accounts from bad actors online.

"We help these accounts with stronger account setting such as 2-factor authentication and we will also monitor for potential hacking of the account," Meta Safety Policy Manager for APAC Malina Enlund told reporters. 

According to the Facebook Protect Page, those who are eligible will get a prompt to enroll.

A safety hub for journalists as well as a dedicated section for women journalists were also made available since those who are covering the polls are also prone to online harassment, Enlund said. 

"We want to enable the freedom of expression and legitimate public discourse around those in the public eye…We do believe that public figures should not be subjected to sexualized attacks," she said. 

"Recently we launched a new policy that helps protect people from mass harassment and intimidation from multiple accounts. We will now remove coordinated efforts of mass harassment that target individuals at the heightened risk of harm," she said. 

'SEXUALIZED ATTACKS'

Facebook said it will now remove the following content as part of the recently implemented changes:

  • • sexualized content, profiles, pages, groups or events sexualizing public figures
  • • derogatory photoshopped images and drawings
  • • attacks on negative physical descriptions 
  • • degrading content depicting individuals in the process of bodily functions
  • • unwanted sexualized commentary 
  • • repeated content which is sexually harassing, among others

"We made these changes because we believe that we don’t want the public to weaponize a public figure’s appearance which is really unnecessary and is not related to the public figure’s work," Enlund said. 

Aside from the embedded safety tools available to all Facebook users, Facebook also has a Facebook Safety Center and the Women's Safety Hub.

It also worked with organizations to curb the spread of non-consensual content through the Stop.nciii.org initiative. 

Still on women's safety, Meta is also working with the Commission on Elections to help women leaders optimize the safety tools available on its platforms, Meta head of Women's Safety Cindy Southworth said. 

Meta will conduct a series of safety training for women leaders and public figures in the country under its Meta Women in Politics program. 

"This program includes training that we will hold in the coming weeks on how they can use platforms to engage their constituents as well as their safety and anti-harassment policies and tools," she said. 

She said this initiative is being practiced globally especially since more women are running for public office.

In the Philippines, Vice President Leni Robredo is the sole woman candidate vying for the country's top executive post in the upcoming May 2022 polls. President Rodrigo Duterte's daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, meanwhile, is running for the second top spot as a vice president. 

Aspirants have all leveraged Facebook in posting campaign ads ahead of the May 2022 elections. 

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