Facebook's New Tools To Reduce Online Harassment Target Impersonating Profiles & Revenge Porn, And They're Much-Needed Features

It's a fact for every social media site: As a platform grows, security becomes more important. Facebook, for example, is constantly expanding — and now, tools to reduce impersonating profiles on Facebook and cut down on other forms of online harassment have been added to the mix. The progress is promising, seeing as how a whopping 40 percent of Internet users have reported experiencing online harassment, according to the Pew Research Center. The numbers are no laughing matter: Of that 40 percent, eight have been physically threatened, and eight have actually been stalked. The fact that Facebook is taking ithe issue seriously and making an effort to combat it is, therefore, quite notable indeed.

One of the new features sends you an automatic alert anytime Facebook thinks someone might be impersonating you with a fake profile. You'll then have the opportunity to review the profile to determine whether it's an authentic page (perhaps belonging to someone who shares your name), or whether it's someone actually pretending to be you. This part of the process is automated, but if you report a page as an impersonation, rest assured it'll be reviewed by a human being.

Although this isn't an enormous problem for Facebook users, the platform discovered that it was of great concern to women in particular. And sure enough, research has found that young women experience online harassment at disproportionately high levels, particularly between the ages of 18 and 24.

The second new feature addresses what you probably know as "revenge porn": Intimate pictures of you posted without your consent, often by a disgruntled ex. While we already had the opportunity to report images containing nudity, you will now have the option to notify Facebook that it's actually you in the photo, and that you did not consent to it being posted.

If you do this, you will not only start the review process of the nonconsensual image, but also receive information about support groups for abuse victims and what you can do to take action legally.

Every bit helps, and I think these are solid steps for Facebook to take. Although I've never experienced someone trying to impersonate me (knock on wood), I have experienced online harassment, as well as witnessed it, many times. In fact, I just reported a page for harassment this week. While Facebook can't control every single thing that happens, we can all appreciate the additional measures they're taking to make the platform a safer place for everyone.

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