Facebook launches new tools to prevent unwanted friend requests and messages

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Facebook  has announced new tools to prevent harassment on Facebook and in Messenger  as part of its ongoing efforts to build a safe community.

Based on feedback from people who use Facebook, as well as organizations representing groups who disproportionately experience harassment like women and journalists, Facebook is  introducing new features that:

  • Proactively recognize and help prevent unwanted contact like friend requests and messages when someone you blocked sets up a new account or tries to contact you from another account they control
  • Provide the option to ignore a Messenger conversation and automatically move it out of your inbox, without having to block the sender

Facebook already prohibit bullying and harassment on its platform, and people can report when they see something concerning or have a had bad experience. Facebook actively review reports and take action on abuse, like removing content, disabling accounts, and limiting certain features like commenting for people who have violated its Community Standards.

People can also control what they share, who they share it with, and who can communicate with them. These new features give users additional ways to manage their experience on Facebook.

Preventing unwanted contact

The company has reported that it has heard stories from people who have blocked someone only to encounter the same harasser using a different account. In order to help prevent those bad encounters, Facebook is building on existing features that prevent fake and inauthentic accounts on its Platform.

These automated features help identify fake accounts more quickly and block millions of them at registration every day. However, sometimes a new account created by someone who was previously blocked might not get caught by these features.

Facebook is  now using various signals (like an IP address) to help us proactively recognize this type of account and prevent its owner from sending a message or friend request to the person who blocked the original account. The person who blocked the original account is in control, and must initiate contact with the new account in order for them to interact normally.

Ignoring messages

If someone is being harassed, blocking the abuser sometimes prompts additional harassment, particularly offline. We’ve also heard from groups that work with survivors of domestic violence that being able to see messages is often a valuable tool to assess if there is risk of additional abuse.

Now, you can tap on a message to ignore the conversation. This disables notifications and moves the conversation from your inbox to your Filtered Messages folder. You can read messages in the conversation without the sender seeing if they’ve been read. This feature is now available for one on one conversations and will soon be available broadly for group messages, too.

Working with experts

Facebook works with experts in a variety of fields to provide safety resources to people. For example, we’ve developed new resources for survivors of domestic violence in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence. This is in addition to its work with more than 150 safety experts over the last year in India, Ireland, Kenya, the Netherlands, Spain, Turkey, Sweden and the US to get feedback on ways we can improve.

Facebook has also convened roundtables with the Facebook Journalism Project to learn more about the unique experiences of the journalist community on Facebook.

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Oliver is the editor of Tech Guy. He's also an experienced digital media buyer. Currently runs a small business in Nairobi Kenya. Send Me a message olivkips@gmail.com