For the first time ever, Facebook asked its independent Oversight Board this week for explicit help on shaping its policies. The issue at stake: the public sharing of private residential information. This practice, called “doxing,” is a form of cyberbullying often done against individuals in an attempt to silence or threaten them.
This policy advisory opinion request concerns… when [residential information] should be considered private and therefore removed,” the Oversight Board wrote in a blog post announcing its acceptance of the case. “According to Facebook, this is a difficult question because residential addresses can be relevant to journalism and civic activism, but ‘exposing this information without consent can create a risk to residents’ safety and infringe on an individual’s privacy.’”
Additionally, Facebook asked the Board whether it should remove personal information that is already publicly available, if the circumstances warrant it. For its part, the Board has launched a form to gather public opinions on any potential policy change, ensuring users have a voice in the process.
It’s notable that the Board took on this case after refusing to rule whether former president Donald Trump should be permanently banned from the platform. That seems to indicate that the independent group could take a greater role in shaping Facebook’s privacy policies moving forward — and that’s almost certainly a good thing.
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