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Facebook fights harassment with impersonation alerts

It's testing a feature that lets you know when someone is trying to imitate you.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 23, 2016
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Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Online harassment is bad enough by itself, but it can be particularly insidious when harassers try to impersonate you -- they can easily ruin your reputation with a few bogus posts. Facebook might just have a way for you to fight back, though. It's currently testing an impersonation alert feature that automatically warns you when it believes that someone is trying to mimic your account. If you believe there's an impersonator at work, Facebook will manually review the offender and shut them down.

The social network started testing its impersonation detection back in November, and it's active in about 75 percent of the world with plans to expand further. Facebook also notes that it's experimenting with features that let you flag inappropriate photos as revenge porn (that is, by identifying yourself as the subject) and remind you to review the privacy of your pictures.

Facebook tells Mashable that it introduced the impersonation warnings to help women feel more at ease on its service. Women not only receive a disproportionate amount of the most egregious internet harassment, but risk becoming social outcasts if they're impersonated in regions where a woman's public image is everything -- imagine losing relationships because an ex-partner falsely labeled you as "impure." Ideally, this will stop impersonators before they can do too much damage.

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