Meta will no longer allow sharing of “publicly available” private home addresses

Meta follows the board’s recommendation to lift an exception that allowed users to share an individual’s home address as long as it is “publicly available,” Facebook’s parent company said in a statement updated post (about Engadget).

Meta’s response comes about a year after the company asked the oversight body to consider its handling of private residential information. That Board gave a response in Februaryand urged Meta to tighten its policies on sharing private home addresses over doxxing concerns.

Although Facebook and Instagram already have rules to prevent users from sharing someone’s home address, the Meta-owned platforms take no action against posts that contain “public-facing addresses.” By meta standards, this means all addresses published in five or more news outlets or made available in public records. Meta says it will end this exception “by the end of the year.”

“As the Board notes in this advisory, removing the exception for ‘publicly available’ private residential information may limit the availability of that information on Facebook and Instagram if it is still publicly available elsewhere,” Meta writes. “However, we recognize that implementing this recommendation may strengthen privacy protections on our platforms.”

Additionally, Meta is changing its response to posts that include photos of the exterior of private homes. The company says it will take no action if “the property pictured is the focus of a message” unless it is “shared in connection with organizing protests against the resident.” It will also allow users to share the exteriors of public residences owned by “high-ranking officials” such as heads of state or ambassadors, and conversely will allow users to organize protests at those locations. And while Meta says it will continue to allow users to post their own addresses, it won’t follow the board’s recommendation to allow other users to re-share them, as it’s “often impossible to know if a resident consented.” has to allow another person to share his home address.”

Additionally, Meta hasn’t fully committed to implementing tools to make it easier for users to report data breaches. It is examining the feasibility of the board’s recommendation to simplify the process for requesting removal of private information on Facebook and Instagram. The company says it’s testing a way to make the “privacy breach” reporting option easier to find. Instead of clicking through two menus looking for the specific option, Meta says it will test whether the option becomes “more prominent”.

The board suggested creating a “specific channel” to also handle reports of doxxing, but Meta declined to take any action. Meta responded that it is “actively building new channels for users to seek support” and that it already works with over 850 organizations that victims can contact for help, such as the UK’s Revenge Porn Helpline and the National Network to End Domestic Violence in the United States.

Meta’s planned policy changes, particularly the decision to close the residential address exemption, should add an extra layer of protection for victim of doxing. Doxxing is the online disclosure of someone’s name, phone number, email address, or home address in order to launch a harassment campaign against them. This is also the first time Meta has responded to the Advisory Board’s advisory opinion.

The supervisory body was established in 2020, and includes a diverse group of members who provide external guidance on Meta’s moderation decisions and policies across all of its platforms. Meta is not bound by any of the oversight board’s decisions, but, like here, must respond to each of its recommendations. Meta will no longer allow sharing of “publicly available” private home addresses

Fry Electronics Team

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