THE Update: Yesterday evening, after I wrote the post below, there was an announcement that Facebook had agreed to work with the coalition of women’s groups demanding that Facebook change its policies that allow rape joke pages and pages inciting rape and violence against women – some of them quite graphic.
In a statement released today, Facebook addressed our concerns and committed to evaluating and updating its policies, guidelines and practices relating to hate speech, improving training for its content moderators and increasing accountability for creators of misogynist content.
The group pushing for this change was able to announce success after just one week of action, showing that people can take action to demand better media, we don’t have to meekly accept what huge corporations choose to give us. This announcement doesn’t mean, though, that the problem described below is eliminated, and you should still be aware of it. A new policy is not yet in place: The coalition will be working with Facebook to shape the new policy.
THE Original post:
You may not be aware that Facebook is ok with pages celebrating rape, and violence against women. Pages that make a joke of rape may have shown up on your children’s timeline. The #FBRape campaign taking place on Twitter set out to change that by pointing out to advertisers that their ads are appearing opposite these pages and images.
Facebook, by the way, has policies against violence and threats, hate speech, bullying, harassment, nudity and pornography, yet seems to categorize rape pages as “humor.”
The problem with this, according one of the leaders of the campaign, Women, Action, and the Media, is that “allowing content about raping and beating women to be shared, boasted and joked about contributes to the normalisation of domestic and sexual violence, creates an atmosphere in which perpetrators are more likely to believe they will go unpunished, and communicates to victims that they will not be taken seriously if they report.”
I’m going to give you a selection of links to help you understand what is happening.
If you want to know what exactly is under protest:
Here’s a round up of what your children might be seeing on Facebook, via Buzzfeed.
The BBC describes the success of the action:
Thousands of protesters are demanding tougher action from Facebook over posts that they say degrade women. More than 50,000 have tweeted in support of the FBrape campaign and around 5,000 have emailed brands whose advertising appears around the content.
Here’s the open letter to Facebook signed by over 100 organizations, at Women, Action, and the Media
Pages currently appearing on Facebook include Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs, Raping your Girlfriend and many, many more. Images appearing on Facebook include photographs of women beaten, bruised, tied up, drugged, and bleeding, with captions such as “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up” and “Next time don’t get pregnant.”
These pages and images are approved by your moderators, while you regularly remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women’s bodies. In addition, women’s political speech, involving the use of their bodies in non-sexualized ways for protest, is regularly banned as pornographic, while pornographic content – prohibited by your own guidelines – remains. It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse. [bold added]
For those who might not have seen some of this content, and who have responded to our recent #FBrape campaign with the usual “don’t be so easily offended” or “learn to take a joke,” let me be clear. We are talking about thousands of images of women bleeding, torn, bruised, battered, scarred, and sometimes even dead.
This link tells you about the successes – the companies that were appalled when it was pointed out to them that their ads appear next to these pages, and agreed to remove their ads. Also, you can find out about the companies that have declined to pull their ads, or otherwise failed to respond. Also, campaign updates here.
In case you haven’t seen enough. Includes links to “VERY GRAPHIC” examples of pages that have been reported to Facebook, and Facebook’s response (ie, that it doesn’t violate their “community standards” policy).
What can you do? By email, Twitter, or even Facebook, you can send notes of appreciation to the companies that have acted by pulling their ads, and let those companies that haven’t, know that you are disappointed.