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Facebook Is Testing an Impersonation Alert

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Online impersonation is a growing problem on the internet; there are many ways that an impersonator can do harm, such as defaming your public image, invading your privacy, or committing fraud. Social media networks make it easy to create an account, but that means they also have to be on the look-out for duplicate accounts created with the intent to impersonate an existing user. Facebook is currently testing an alert feature that will let users know when someone else appears to be mimicking them on the platform.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s Head of Global Safety, told Mashable that the feature has been in testing since last November, and it’s currently live for 75% of users worldwide. Davis explained that the choice was made in response to a series of roundtables done with women around the world by Facebook Safety:

We heard feedback prior to the roundtables and also at the roundtables that this was a point of concern for women. And it’s a real point of concern for some women in certain regions of the world where it [impersonation] may have certain cultural or social ramifications.

Facebook also plans to implement other strategies for combating online harassment, including a methodology for reporting against “revenge porn” photos (including a tool to specify whether it depicts oneself), as well as a “photo checkup” feature that educates users about the privacy settings on the photos they post.

It’s interesting to see Facebook taking these new steps towards restoring a sense of privacy and safety online, considering how many privacy concerns users have had with this service since its inception. As Davis said, these changes follow on the heels of Facebook Safety’s roundtables around the world, seeking input from both users and experts on how to improve the platform. Some of the women who participated in these roundtables were also invited to contribute “safety tips” for this video:

At a series of round tables we hosted around the world, women talked with us about their experiences on social media —…

Posted by Facebook Safety on Tuesday, March 22, 2016

These aren’t bad safety tips — but it’s a lot more heartening to see Facebook stepping up to the plate themselves when it comes to implementing better policies. While we’re expressing privacy concerns, I’d also like to see Facebook stop their data mining practices, but, hey … can’t have everything, I guess.

(via Engadget, image via Flickr)

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