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Meta told to overhaul policies over doxxing fears

Image source, NurPhoto

Meta’s Oversight Board has advised the social network to change its policy on allowing the sharing of people’s addresses, even if the information is considered public.

Meta requested the advice last year – the first time it has asked the board to help define one of its policies.

It follows a series of leaks on social media of high-profile people’s addresses.

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This so-called doxxing could cause real-world harms, the board advised.

Doxxing refers to the release of private information about individuals online, usually with malicious intent.

Tricky reality

In November, Harry Potter author JK Rowling said she was a victim – after a photograph taken outside her home, revealing its address, was circulated online.

But in January, police said no action would be taken against the activists who had targeted her.

Facebook, owned by Meta, does not allow the sharing of private residential information generally – unless it is already “publicly available”.

But in June, it asked the board to further consider the tricky reality that while potentially relevant to journalism and activism, access to such information could also risk residents’ safety.

Malicious sharing

In response, the Oversight Board has issued a detailed 17-point plan and said the “publicly available” exception should no longer apply.

It also said Meta should “swiftly” respond to anyone claiming to have fallen victim to doxxing, regardless of whether they had Facebook account.

“The malicious sharing of private residential addresses on social media is a serious problem that can lead to real-world harms, including stalking and harassment,” said Oversight Board director Thomas Hughes.

Meta will not have to implement the recommendations – but it must respond within 60 days.

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