It’s Time Facebook Cracks Down On Gender Based Hate Speech

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Open Letter Facebook Rape Pages And AdvertisersSoraya Chemaly, along with The Everyday Sexism Project and Women, Action & The Media (WAM!) and thousands of others have all joined together to ask Facebook to do a few simple things. From The Huffington Post:

  • Recognize speech that trivializes or glorifies violence against girls and women as hate speech and make a commitment that you will not tolerate this content.
  • Effectively train moderators to recognize and remove gender-based hate speech.
  • Effectively train moderators to understand how online harassment differently affects women and men, in part due to the real-world pandemic of violence against women.

These all seem like pretty simple requests right? Especially when you consider that the ads for products are showing up on pages and groups with images like this:





These are just too small examples, and they are definitely not the worst examples. Our readers are very familiar with how Facebook removes content that it finds offensive, and they are all too swift when taking down a picture of a woman breastfeeding an infant but they have no problem hosting groups with names like “ I Kill Bitches Like You” and “Punching Your Girlfriend In The Face ‘Cuz You’re Chris Brown.” We all know that photos that depict breastfeeding or mammography scars or images that feature nudity are quick to be flagged and removed, and Facebook should have the same policies in regard to images that feature violence. Companies buy ad space on Facebook. Their products appear next to these images and on the pages of these groups that glorify and trivialize things like domestic abuse, rape, and violence towards women and children. It would seem that a company wouldn’t want to be associated with this sort of content, but when questioned about why they continue to advertise on these sorts of pages they are having a hard time coming up with a logical answer:

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While a lot of companies “work” with Facebook to make sure their ads don’t appear on pages that find the concept of rape and domestic violence “hilarious” a few companies have pulled their Facebook ad buys entirely until this issue is resolved. Companies have a choice. If they wouldn’t advertise in magazines that feature violence against women or other objectionable content, they can make the choice not to advertise on pages with this sort of content on Facebook. Women spend a lot of money on products. We are consumers. We like when companies take a stand against issues we find important, like violence against women. I do the majority of product shopping in my household, and I pay attention to this issue because I want to give my money to companies that also care deeply about these subjects. This isn’t a “woman’s issue” –  this is a human issue. We care about these topics. And with so many of us having kids who are users of Facebook the idea that they are able to access these pages and see this sort of content is horrific to me.The idea that teens upload videos of their crimes against each other is horrific to me.  I write at great length about rape, violence against women and child abuse , and I think the world collectively cares about these issues and with the popularity of social media we can all make a difference in letting advertisers be aware that these things matter to us. Taking a stand against having your soap or car rental or audio equipment advertisements pulled from pages that glorify violence against women and children shows us, the consumers, that you care about an issue that so many people find important. You can follow the hashtag #fbrape on twitter to voice your opinions and follow what this incredible project is all about.

I’m so glad that people are taking a stand, and this project was started to let our voices be heard. A woman feeding her infant is in no way offensive, but making a meme out of a battered woman’s face and turning domestic violence into a joke is. And if companies can’t understand that, I will take my soap buying dollars elsewhere.

(Image: Women Action & The Media)