You see them all the time on Facebook – pages users started for a laugh. It might be “Severus Snape’s Sushi and Salad Bar” or “Alfred’s Butler School For Young Men,” whatever the case, they serve little purpose and usually gain little attention. But when pages promoting sexual violence towards women started showing up – as “jokes” – a lot of people weren’t laughing. After numerous complaints and bad press, Facebook has removed several offensive pages on the social networking site, yet, they still haven’t apologized for letting them stay up for three months. What gives?
If you haven’t already heard about the rape-joke pages, let me warn you, they run the gambit from downright crude to legitimately scary. For example, there was a Facebook page titled, “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife.” Another, “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina.” Yes. These pages remained on the site for three months yet my friends’ innocent cosplay photos are removed for being indecent. Great policies you’ve got there, Facebook.
Although I’m hard pressed to lay the blame solely on the website, according to the BBC, a page called “You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway,” had 194,370 likes. The BBC contacted Facebook directly about the issue back in August and the site refused to remove the offensive pages because they wanted to allow freedom of expression. Just to remind everyone, here is what it says on Facebook about content:
You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
The website gave the BBC this statement:
It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining, just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.
And in a further statement Facebook said:
Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies. These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely in people’s homes, in cafes and on the telephone.
A petition started on Change.org proved that many people saw things differently and would demand to be heard. There was also a Twitter campaign that used the hashtag #notfunnyfacebook to get the point across. Sony, American Express and BlackBerry have all asked their advertising be removed from the social networking site because of the incident and lack of response and it seems that only then did Facebook listen.
As of right now, the offending pages are down but Facebook has given no indication it will remove any new ones that appear, nor have they apologized for their inaction to follow their own policies. But now that the pages have been removed, the next big issue to tackle here is why Facebook felt it was ok to pass sexual violence off as entertaining. The website hasn’t made many friends with their constant privacy issues but this puts them in the hottest of hot water in my book.
(via Ms. Magazine)