Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook, on Thursday announced an expansion of its Facebook Protect security program to include human rights defenders, activists, journalists, and government officials who are more likely to be targeted by bad actors across its social media platforms.
“These people are at the center of critical communities for public debate,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta. “They enable democratic elections, hold governments and organizations accountable, and defend human rights around the world. Unfortunately this also means that they are highly targeted by bad actors.”
Facebook Protect, currently being launched globally in phases, enables users who enroll for the initiative to adopt stronger account security protections, like two-factor authentication (2FA), and watch out for potential hacking threats. Meta said more than 1.5 million accounts have enabled Facebook Protect to date, of which nearly 950,000 accounts turned on 2FA since it began widely rolling out the feature in September 2021.
The program is analogous to Google’s own Advanced Protection Program (APP), which aims to safeguard users with high visibility and sensitive information and are at risk of targeted online attacks by preventing unauthorized account takeover attempts and incorporating stringent checks before downloading files and software on Chrome and Gmail.
People who may be eligible for Facebook Protect are expected to be notified via a prompt on Facebook, along with an option to turn on the advanced security features as well as identify any potential issues — e.g., lack of a strong password — that could be abused to gain access to the accounts.
The move also arrives weeks after Apple outlined plans to send threat notifications to alert users it believes have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers. Notifications will be delivered to affected users via email and iMessage notifications to the addresses and phone numbers associated with the users’ Apple IDs, and a prominent “Threat Notification” banner will be displayed at the top of the page when impacted users log into their accounts on the Apple ID web portal appleid.apple[.]com.
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