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21% of Facebook users in the Philippines experienced harassment —study

Facebook conducted a new study among users in the Philippines and it showed that at least 21% of survey responders reported being the target of harassment.

According human rights impact assessment (HRIA) conducted by independent research agency Article One, among the 21% were reports of being doxed (49%), threatened with physical violence (25%), have received death threats (9%) and rape threats (3%).

The study, results of which were presented on Thursday, also showed that 81% have reported seeing “bullying” taking place on the platform while 18% reported having experienced "offline harm" due to engagement on Facebook.

During the briefing, Article One co-founder and principal Chloe Poynton identified the following as “vulnerable groups” especially at risk of harassment in the Philippines:

  • Journalists
  • Political dissidents
  • Human rights defenders
  • LGBTQ+ users
  • Alleged drug users
  • Ethnic Chinese

The 2021 HRIA included qualitative interviews with 32 stakeholders, including journalists, child protection specialists and civil society activists, as well as a survey of 2,000 Meta users in the Philippines.

Article One, a specialized human rights and ethics consulting firm, conducted the study based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs).

Meta commissioned an independent HRIA into the impacts of its products in the Philippines “to identify and mitigate human rights risks, and to inform our future strategy.”


The study urged Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to “enable and empower users to take control of their security and privacy by expanding and increasing awareness of platform-based reporting functions, including through more visible product tools.”

For its part, the social media giant said it has made several updates to their community standards and launched products and initiatives to better protect public figures, human rights defenders and journalists.

These include updates to its bullying harassment policies designed to include stronger protections against gender-based harassment; expanded protections for journalists and activists to remove severe and unwanted sexualizing content, derogatory sexualized photoshopped images or drawings or direct negative attacks on a person's appearance in comments on a public figure's profile; and new policies against certain “mass harassment” or “brigading” inspired by the experiences documented in the report.

During the media briefing on the HRIA, Facebook's Human Rights Director Miranda Sissons stressed that Meta is "constantly working to evolve our products, policies and processes to address the risks identified in the report.”

Meta also said they have committed to implement 24 recommendations, partly implementing seven, and assessing feasibility of another nine.  —KBK, GMA News

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