Today, Facebook announced it is introducing new tools aimed at preventing harassment on Facebook and Messenger. The tools have been created based on feedback both from users and organizations for groups that experience higher levels of harassment online, like women and journalists.
Firstly, Facebook is increasing security features that prevent people from creating fake accounts, including now looking at various signals like IP addresses. This should help prevent unwanted contact from people an individual has previously blocked for harassment, so that same person can’t create a new account just to add you again.
Facebook is also adding an ignore feature to mute a conversation without the sender knowing. If someone is being harassed, sometimes it is still useful to be able to access messages from the harasser, in order to see if there is any risk of future danger. However, if the harasser sees that messages are being actively read, that can also be risky, and seen as reinforcement or interaction. You can now mark conversations as “ignore,” which will disable notifications and move the conversation to Filtered Messages. There, you can read the conversation without letting the sender see if they’ve been read. At launch, this feature will only available for one on one conversations, but will expand to group messages.
Facebook already forbids bullying and harassment, but even if content is removed or accounts are disabled, there are ways around the rules that can allow people to continue to harass, and, sometimes things simply slip by Facebook’s automated features. Hopefully, these new tools will help people feel safer on Facebook, as many rely on it to stay in touch with friends and family, even if they currently don’t trust it very much.