Meta no longer allows sharing of ‘publicly available’ private home addresses

Meta is following the Oversight Board’s recommendation to remove an exception that allowed users to share a person’s residential address as long as it is “publicly available,” the Facebook parent company announced in an updated post (via Engadget

Meta’s response comes about a year after the company asked the Supervisory Board to think about the handling of private housing information. The board released a response in February, calling on Meta to tighten its policy on sharing private addresses due to concerns about doxxing.

While Facebook and Instagram already have rules prohibiting users from sharing someone’s home address, Meta’s platforms don’t take action against posts that contain “publicly available addresses.” By Meta’s standards, this means all addresses published in five or more news outlets or made available in public records. Meta says it will end this exception “by the end of the year.”

“As the board notes in this recommendation, removing the exception for ‘publicly available’ private home information may limit the availability of this information on Facebook and Instagram when it is publicly available elsewhere,” Meta writes. “However, we recognize that implementing this recommendation can strengthen privacy protections on our platforms.”

In addition, Meta changes his response to posts with photos of the exterior of private homes. The company says it will not take action if “the property depicted is the focus of a news story” unless it is “shared in the context of organizing protests against the resident”. It also allows users to share the exteriors of public residences belonging to ‘senior officials’, such as heads of state or ambassadors, and conversely, users can organize protests in these locations. And while Meta says it will continue to post users their own addresses, it will not follow the Board’s recommendation to let other users share them again, citing that it is “often impossible to know if a resident has consented.” by allowing another person to share their address.” Private adress.”

In addition, Meta has not fully committed to implementing tools that make it easier for users to report a privacy violation. It is assessing the feasibility of the board’s recommendation to simplify the process of requesting deletion of private information on Facebook and Instagram. The company says it is testing a way to make the “Privacy Breach” notification option easier to find. Instead of clicking through two menus and searching for the specific option, Meta says it will test to make the option “prominent”.

The board suggested creating a “dedicated channel” to also handle reports of doxxing, but Meta declined to take action. Meta replied by saying that it is “actively building new channels for users to get support”, and that it already partners with more than 850 organizations that victims can contact to get help, such as the Revenge Porn Helpline in the UK and the National Network to End Domestic Violence in the US.

Meta’s planned policy changes, most notably the decision to close the residential address exception, should add an extra layer of protection for victims of doxxing. Doxxing is the online disclosure of a person’s name, phone number, email or home address for the purpose of conducting a campaign of intimidation against them. It is also the first time that Meta has responded to the policy advice of the Supervisory Board.

Launched in 2020, the Oversight Board includes a diverse group of members who provide outside guidance on Meta’s moderation decisions and policies across all of its platforms. Meta is not bound by any of the Oversight Board’s decisions, but must respond to each of its recommendations as she has done here.

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