Meta policies reveal ways against abuse during the FIFA World Cup

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Ahead of the FIFA World Cup, Meta outlines ways to protect footballers and fans from harmful comments and messages on its apps.

As FIFA kicks off, Meta shares more details about its policies against abuse and the range of tools developed to help keep footballers and everyone else safe.

Rules Against Abuse

Meta has clear rules against bullying, violent threats, and hate speech. As well as responding to reports from the community, outside of private messages it also uses technology to proactively look for content that might break these rules. Where the technology thinks a piece of content may be violating, it will take action, whether that’s sending it to the teams for review or if it’s really confident deleting it automatically. Between April and June this year, Meta took action on more than 17 million pieces of hate speech on Facebook and Instagram and found more than 90% of that before anyone reported it.

Safekeeping Features

In response to feedback from the community, Meta developed new features and updated existing ones to help footballers and fans alike stay safe on its apps and protect them from abuse.

People can turn direct message (DM) requests off completely on Instagram, meaning they won’t receive messages from anyone they don’t follow. They can also choose who can comment on their posts or turn off comments altogether, on a post-by-post basis. But some public figures told Meta that they don’t want to turn off DM requests completely because they like hearing from fans and other members of their community. In line with this was developed Hidden Words.

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When turned on, this feature automatically sends DM requests including Story replies containing offensive words, phrases, and emojis to a hidden folder. It also hides comments with these terms under the posts. Since launching Hidden Words last year, more than one in five people with more than 10,000 followers have turned it on. Meta is also testing turning it on by default for people with creator accounts, which includes many footballers playing in the World Cup.

The Hidden Words user interface on Instagram.

Meta launched Limits last year, which, when turned on, hides comments and DM requests from people who don’t follow you or who only followed you recently. Limits is particularly useful for public figures who experience sudden spikes of comments and DMs after a football game, for example the research shows that most negativity towards them comes from non-followers or recent followers. When it detects that someone may be experiencing a rush of comments or DM requests, Meta will prompt them to turn on Limits.

The Privacy menu on Instagram, highlighting the ability to turn on Limits.
The user interface for turning on Limits on Instagram.

Blocking is a quick and effective way to stop someone from interacting with you. Now when you block someone on Instagram, you can also block any other accounts they may already have, or may create in the future, making it even harder for them to contact you.

The user interface showing how to block someone on Instagram.
An image showing that an account has been blocked on Instagram.

Encouraging more supportive behavior on Instagram

Meta is also continuing to explore ways to prevent people from posting abusive content in the first place. The platform recently introduced new nudges that encourage people to pause and rethink before replying to a potentially offensive comment. These nudges are live now for people whose apps are set to English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Chinese, or Arabic.

An Instagram prompting reminding someone to be kind in their comment reply.

When people send a DM request to a creator or public figure for the first time, it reminds them to be respectful, so they remember there’s a real person on the other side of their message.

A kindness reminder in an Instagram direct message.

Educating footballers about safety tools and policies

Meta regularly speaks to football players, teams, and associations around the world including FIFA to make sure they know about the latest safety policies and features, and listens carefully to their feedback. It also works closely with teams competing in the World Cup to help their players turn on the safety tools for example Hidden Words — and reminds footballers in the tournament to check them with a prompt at the top of their Instagram Feed.

The user interface for turning on safety settings on Instagram.

Meta claims to be cooperating with law enforcement in their investigations and responding to valid legal requests for information in accordance with the terms of service and applicable law. As with all law enforcement requests, it will push back if they’re too broad, inconsistent with human rights, or not legally valid.

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