Dec 19, 2017

Facebook announces new tools to prevent harassment

Employees of the Competence Call Center (CCC) work for the Facebook Community Operations Team in Essen, Germany. Photo: Martin Meissner / AP

Facebook announced in a blog post it is rolling out new tools that will prevent people from harassing other users that are particularly prone to harassment, such as women and journalists. Facebook said they will be building on existing features that are automated to do so.

Why it matters: More than 40% of Americans report being victims of harassing behaviors online, according to Pew Research Center. Almost half of respondents say online harassment causes mental or emotional stress. A quarter say it causes damage to reputation.

The features:

  • Facebook said it will work to "proactively recognize and help prevent unwanted contact like friend requests and messages" from people users have already blocked, even if those people are using other accounts to make contact.
  • Users will be able to ignore a conversation in Messenger and automatically move it out of the inbox, "without having to block the sender."

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Stocks fall 4% as sell-off worsens

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

Stocks fell more than 4% on Thursday, extending the market’s worst week since the financial crisis in 2008 following a spike in coronavirus cases around the world.

The big picture: All three indices are in correction, down over 10% from recent record-highs, amid a global market rout. It's the S&P 500's quickest decline into correction territory in the index's history, per Deutsche Bank.

Coronavirus updates: California monitors 8,400 potential cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

33 people in California have tested positive for the coronavirus, and health officials are monitoring 8,400 people who have recently returned from "points of concern," Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 82,000 others in some 50 countries and territories. The novel coronavirus is now affecting every continent but Antarctica, and the WHO said Wednesday the number of new cases reported outside China has exceeded those inside the country for the first time.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Watchdog opens probe into VA secretary over handling of sexual assault claim

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie on Fox Business Network’s "The Evening Edit" on Jan. 7. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General Michael Missal said Thursday he had opened an investigation into VA Secretary Robert Wilkie after lawmakers demanded an inquiry into his handling of a sexual misconduct report, the Washington Post reports.

Context: Wilkie allegedly "worked to discredit" the credibility of Democratic aide and veteran Andrea Goldstein after she reported last fall "that a man groped and propositioned her in the main lobby of the agency's D.C. Medical Center," a senior VA official told the Post.