Meta’s New Oversight Board closes a loophole in its doxxing policy


Meta has agreed to change some of its rules around doxxing in response to recommendations from the Oversight Board. The company had first asked the Oversight Board to help shape its rules last June, saying the policy was “significant and difficult.” The board followed up with 17 recommendations for the company in February, which Meta has now weighed in on.


Meta’s Oversight Board


Unlike decisions around whether specific posts should be taken down or left up, Meta is free to completely disregard policy proposals from the Oversight Board, but it is required to respond to each recommendation individually. One of the most notable changes is that Meta agreed to end an exception to its existing rules that allowed users to post private residential information if it was “publicly available” elsewhere. The Oversight Board had pointed out that there was a significant difference between obtaining data from a public records request and a viral social media post.

Meta agreed to remove the exception from its policy. “As the board notes in this recommendation, removing the exception for ‘publicly available’ private residential information may limit the availability of this information on Facebook and Instagram when it is still publicly available elsewhere,” the company wrote. “However, we recognize that implementing this recommendation can strengthen privacy protections on our platforms.” Meta added that the policy change would be implemented “by the end of the year.”


Exceptions to the Oversight Board


While the company ended one exception, it agreed to relax its policy on another issue. Meta said users would be able to share photos of the exterior of private homes “when the property depicted is the focus of the news story, except when shared in the context of organizing protests against the resident.”

Likewise, the company also agreed that it would allow users to share addresses of “high ranking” government officials if the property is a publicly-owned official residence, like those used by heads of state and ambassadors. The policy changes could have a significant impact for people facing harassment, while also allowing some information to be shared in the context of news stories or protests against elected officials.


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