Facebook, National Network To End Domestic Violence Team Up On ‘Privacy & Safety on Facebook’

By David Cohen 

In an effort to do its part to help combat domestic violence, Facebook teamed up with the National Network to End Domestic Violence on “Privacy & Safety on Facebook,” a comprehensive guide released Tuesday on the social network’s Family Safety Center page.

Facebook and NNEDV said the guide provides information on how domestic violence victims can maintain safety and control over their information on the social network and elsewhere online, while still connecting with friends and family.

NNEDV Vice President Cindy Southworth said in a note on the Family Safety Center page (UPDATED):

Since joining Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board in 2010, NNEDV has embraced its partnership with Facebook to consistently support the needs of victims of domestic violence, dating abuse, cyber-stalking, and teen dating violence.

Privacy and safety go hand-in-hand for survivors. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they are preparing to leave or have left an abusive partner. It is critical that survivors have the information that they need to navigate their lives safely, and, in today’s digital age, a significant part of our lives are online.

We believe that survivors have the right to experience and live online (and offline) safely. We sometimes hear that survivors should just“get offline” if they are concerned about an abuser finding them or contacting them. This is not a solution. Survivors shouldn’t have to live their lives avoiding every possible situation that the abusive person could misuse. They can’t control that person’s behavior, and we should work to continuously hold abusers accountable for their actions. Abusers go to devastating lengths to isolate their victims from family and friends. It is vital that survivors are able to safely rebuild those important connections, using Facebook and other social networks. Telling a victim to go offline to be safe is not only unacceptable, but it further isolates her from people who love her. Our role, as advocates, professionals, friends, and family, is to make sure that survivors know the options to maintain their safety. That’s the empowering strategy — helping survivors take back the control that abusers have tried to steal from their lives.

This guide addresses privacy on Facebook, as well as safety tips and options for when someone is misusing the site to harass, monitor, threaten, or stalk. It refers back to Facebook’s Help Center in several places for more detailed information on settings and features — a site that all Facebook users should check out.

We hope that this guide helps survivors of abuse know how to stay connected through social media while continuing to maintain their safety.

Readers: What else can Facebook do to ensure the privacy and safety of victims of domestic violence?