For years, Facebook allowed InfoWars host Alex Jones to spread misinformation, incite harassment and galvanize a group of social media users who support his conspiracy theories. The social network eventually removed Jones’ content, but not before CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the site’s choice to leave his content up.
But Facebook is seemingly silencing other users for something much more simple: calling men trash.
Recently, several Facebook users have tweeted that the social network has temporarily banned them after complaining that “men are trash.” We first learned that Facebook considered the phrase hate speech in December, but many users are still surprised and angered by the social network’s decision to punish those who share this sentiment.
Similar phrases like “men are scum” have also resulted in a temporary ban. In an interview with the Daily Beast, comedian Alison Klemp said she called men “scum” in November and was banned from Facebook for seven days. Another comedian, Kayla Avery, said she was banned nearly 10 times for saying “men continue to be the worst” after encountering harassment on her page.
Facebook uses a strike system to determine if a user should be fully or partially banned, according to a Facebook spokesperson. The company did not reveal the maximum number of strikes required to get a user banned to keep users from trying to game the system. According to the spokesperson, calling other groups trash, like women or black people, is not allowed. To have a page removed, however, requires even more strikes.
Facebook has long made headlines for its policies around banning users. In the past, talking badly about white people has lead to a ban, while talking about black children hasn’t always resulted in the same (a rule that Facebook has since changed). Abuse against Muslims is banned. But abuse against Muslim immigrants is considered a political statement. In some cases, human reviewers are to blame for user bans; in other cases it’s the algorithms.
On the backdrop of InfoWars’ removal from Facebook, the rules surrounding what lives on social media are being criticized now more than ever. But according to the company, a simple phrase like “men are trash” will continue to garner a quicker response out of the company than the spreading of false information to millions. Until the social network changes its policies, men will never be able to be trash — at least not on Facebook.