February 19, 2022 - 10:08 am

Strict Anti-Doxxing Policies For Meta

Parent company, Meta came up with new recommendations this week, instructing the companies to boost up its policies. These would work towards protecting their users from being victims of doxxing. Meta’s oversight board urged Meta to consider doxxing as “severe,” that should prompt temporary account suspension. It has asked Meta to implement strict regulations on publishing and sharing personal information like an individual's residential address that can easily identify people and make them targets for those with malicious intent.

Doxxing is publishing and analysing others' personal information on the internet with a malicious intent that can reveal the person's real identity making them victims of harassments and cyber attacks, according to security firm, Heimdal security. The firm highlighted how doxxing is used to shame or punish people who would rather stay anonymous, because of their controversial beliefs or other types of non-mainstream activity. It reckons that most of us are careless with the information we share on the Internet, that cybercriminals can use to find out our real identity and harass us. The security firm has highlighted a few instances of doxxing. Doxxing can result in emotional distress, loss of employment and even physical harm or death.

In 2021, Facebook had previously requested advice on its privacy policy. On the other hand, Meta’s present policy holds an exception for information which go on to become ‘publicly available’. They remove information which can potentially cause physical or financial harm i.e., private information soliciting personal details. However, they allow such information to be posted the moment it becomes publicly available. During such an exposure, the harm was listed as ‘difficult to remedy’. This indicated that once some private information is out, it is near impossible to remove it from the internet. Owing to the phrase ‘nothing is ever gone from the internet,’ the Oversight Board advised Meta to get rid of the exceptions. Newer and a more secure ‘privacy policy’ is called for due to the unique risks it posed.

Twitter recently expanded its own privacy rules to ban the sharing of images and videos of private individuals without people’s consent, but soon acknowledged the new policy was being abused by malicious actors and that the company’s enforcement team had made mistakes.

Various loopholes and exceptions may occur during the implementation of the new rules. News focussing on a particular residential area or locality may be compelled to post imagery of private houses. But despite its importance, the Board urges Meta to avoid doing so, unless it involves government residences. Protests occurring near official residences of federal and government leaders maybe covered, depending on the amount of security.

Safety concerns on social media platform is not a new problem. It has been existing since its very juncture and comes up in different forms. Many commented on how Meta should take charge to weigh the impact on the people whose information maybe publicly posted. They should prioritise and act accordingly when an affected user claims to be facing high amount of risk in their residential area. The step taken by the Oversight Board proves to be vital for the safety of social media users. Doxxing issues occurring in cases of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian and JK Rowling shows the damage it can cause. It is essential that celebrities, along with general public and journalists, get their share of privacy without being victims of continuous doxxing.