Facebook Commits to Remove Violent Misogynistic Pages

Published: 6 June 2013

Region: Worldwide

facebook womenFacebook has promised to undertake some measures against pro-rape groups, after a campaign by Everyday Sexism Project , Women, Action & the Media (WAM!) and author Soraya Chemaly denounced content inciting violence against women on the website.

In an open letter, they demanded the social media giant to end gender-based hate speech on its pages. Facebook users were also called to ask companies whose adverts appear next to harmful content to withdraw their adverts.

Facebook, which already censors breast-feeding images but not photographs showing abused women, it had in the past repeatedly ignored the issued.The content that the campaign condemns includes images of women beaten and raped with captions such as “One third of women are physically abused. Two third of men aren’t doing their job” or “Next time don’t get pregnant.”

“We aren’t talking about sexist jokes or about censoring free speech,” says Laura Bates, of Everyday Sexism Project. “Instead, we are talking about a move away from tolerance of violent portrayals of misogyny – and the corresponding suggestions that boasting and laughing about rape and sexual assault,” she points out.

In a U-turn on its previous refusal to tackle the issue, the web giant announced tougher action over posts that celebrate rape and domestic violence. In a public statement, Facebook admitted: “Our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate.”

Facebook have committed on the three proposals launched by the feminist groups. It will evaluate and update its policies, guidelines and practices relating to hate speech, improve training for its moderators and increase accountability for creators of misogynist content.

After 60,000 tweets in support of the #FBrape petition, 5,000 emails to advertisers, and the mobilisation of 100 organisations, the WAM! rejoiced at the campaign’s success: “We are hopeful that this moment will mark an historic transition in relation to media and women’s rights in which Facebook is acknowledged as a leader in fostering safer, genuinely inclusive online communities, setting industry precedents for others to follow.”