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Facebook Tests A Slew Of New Safety Features To Counter Impersonation And Harrassment

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Social networking is going stronger than ever, with both the number of people, as well as the average time spent per person increasing in leaps and bounds. However, the potential or rather, the potential for misuse has also increased. After all, how hard is it really to impersonate someone on a social networking platform. Realizing this, Facebook has already begun taking preventive measures.

Yes sir, impersonation is not limited to celebrities anymore and we all have that friend who has multiple Facebook accounts under his sleeves. Well, Mashable reports that the social networking website has introduced a brand new, Impersonation check feature that will notify users whenever another user appears to be copying your virtual personality by using your name and profile photo.

The company first began testing the feature as early as November last year, and it is already active in 75% of the world. However, Facebook is now looking to expand its reach to cover the rest of the world too.

So what happens now? Well, if Facebook discovers a profile that seems to resemble yours in one way or the other, it will notify you and ask you to confirm if it’s a case of Impersonation or if the said profile belongs to someone else who is not impersonating you.

If you do flag a profile as a case of Impersonation, Facebook teams will manually review the account and take corrective measures to ensure that the Impersonation is discontinued.

The feature is bound to prove useful. With increasing internet penetration and ease of access, many users, particularly women, have found themselves the object of  harassment, which often uses impersonation as one of its tools.

Imagine someone using your account, or an account that resembles yours, to post something obscene or inappropriate on Facebook. Even if you can, at some point in the future, prove that it wasn’t you, a measure of damage has already been done. Which is what this feature seeks to nip in the bud.

Speaking with Mashable, Antigone Davis,Head Of Global Security at Facebook, said

We heard feedback prior to the roundtables and also at the roundtables that this was a point of concern for women. And it’s a real point of concern for some women in certain regions of the world where it [impersonation] may have certain cultural or social ramifications.

Apart from reporting Impersonation, Facebook has come up with two other security features as well. While the first feature seeks to improve the already available methods of reporting nonconsensual intimate images — which were banned in 2012 — the second feature has to do with educating users about who can see their photos.

So the next time someone has an unfortunate incident involving compromising images leaked over the platform without their permission, they can also identify themselves as the subjects of such images. Not only will this kick off the review process, but will also let them have access to guidelines about what to do next, including support groups and legal options.

Well, we definitely appreciate Facebooks attempts to make then social networking platform a healthier place to be at. However, judging by some of the comments received at the Facebook Safety page, it seems like quite a bit of work is required before something resembling a virtual utopia — if it can be reached at all — can be achieved.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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