(ZDNet) It only took two long months, over 186,000 signatures on a petition to Mark Zuckerberg, and finally a furious Twitter campaign to get Facebook to remove Pages that graphically celebrated and encouraged rape and sexual violence.
This time, anyway.
Warning: some readers might find the rest of this article and its links disturbing.
Unfortunately this was not the first time Facebook had to be externally pressured to enforce its own Terms around the flashpoint topic of sexual violence. And no, we’re not talking about consensual spanky-spanky between adults. (I’m sure Facebook would have taken that Page down much sooner.)
The first round was in August, when people demanded that Facebook take down a so-called “rape humor” page called “You know she’s playing hard to get when your [SIC] chasing her down an alleyway.”
Facebook defended keeping the rape page as a sort-of everyday, harmless thing, and in a statement to the BBC likened the pro-rape page to “pub jokes.” (Remind me to never go drinking with Facebook.)
Social justice website GoPetition had to cull over 6,000 signatures before the page was deep-sixed.
In September, more “rape humor” Pages and Pages celebrating sexual violence against women and girls were up and running (and no doubt earning that sweet Facebook ad revenue). Once again, Facebook seemed to have turned a deaf ear to its users’ complaints.
Change.org then started a petition to try and get the pages promoting sexual violence removed.
But Facebook ignored it. Until a few days ago.
Facebook Pages that lasted despite user outrage from at least September 8th – November 2nd (a sampling):
- Riding You [SIC] Girlfriend Soflty [SIC] So She Doesn’t Wake Up
- Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend, as a joke
- Don’t You Hate it When You Punch a Sl*t in the Mouth and They Suck It
Sadly, Change.org had to get creative in order to get Facebook to enforce its own Terms of Service. In short, they used Twitter.
Yes. They had to resort to a competing social site to wake Facebook the hell up – at the very least to its own Terms.
After two months and 186,000 signatures with no response – not even an insulting one about bar banter – Change.org began a new campaign Monday on top of its massive petition.
Change.org urged the 186K people that had already signed the petition to Tweet the URLs of Facebook pages promoting sexual assault with the tag #notfunnyfacebook.
With support publicity from Ms. Magazine the #notfunnyfacebook campaign supporters were tweeting the hashtag at a peak rate of 200 tweets per hour.
Show Me On The Doll Where Facebook Touched You
After removing the pages, Facebook’s rep told AllFacebook that they take things seriously (really!), and reminded everyone that reporting a Page is how to get offending content reviewed (using a different definition of the word “promptly” than the rest of us) and also said that they’ve made the social reporting tool totally much more awesome because they care and stuff.
It’s great that the pages joking about girls having sex at knifepoint are finally gone after months of traumatizing sexual assault victims in its community that accidentally landed on the page. Yay, Facebook.
What I mean is to congratulate Change.org for not giving up. But how many of us have had Facebook rip the rug our from under us, or our friends, for far far less?
I think most people are so fed up with Facebook by now that they’re tired of the endless stream of injustices to them as Facebook consumers, content makers, responsible social media citizens, businesses – and let’s not forget the developers.
So it bends the brain beyond reason to think that at a breaking point of everyone being ready to accuse Facebook of just about anything, their negligent behavior toward sexual violence victims could become reprehensibly, cartoonishly extreme.
The social media behemoth has a massive problem with sex. This is exactly what happens when a social network refuses to roll up its sleeves and define sexual expression in its Terms. Specifically, I mean Facebook’s urgent need to define different types of sexual speech or expression as healthy or harmful to its community.
Sex is the Achilles’ Heel of all social businesses. And to that end, transparency can be a cruel mistress.
With zero tolerance for porn and a refusal to define it, Facebook has deleted breast cancer survivor communities (labeling one breast cancer survivor page as “pornography”), retail business pages, individual profiles of human sexuality teachers, pages for authors and actors, photos of LGBT couples kissing (for which Facebook just apologized), and even the occasional hapless user’s profile who has the misfortune of having someone else post porn on their Wall.
With no comprehensible or clear methodology around sexual speech, we see pages deleted that discuss female sexuality, while pages that joke about and encourage raping women and girls rack up the likes.
Not to mention – a petition, and two months, and a whole lotta common sense about doing the right thing with over-the-top troll pages? Just how incompetently can you run your product, Facebook?Very, apparently.
Unless they can make clear rules and follow them, with the potential to impact and harm the culture it pretends to serve, I think Facebook is going to have to be forced into being a responsible internet citizen.
I don’t know what that looks like, but it can’t happen soon enough. Until then, get me a whip.
By Violet Blue-ZDNET