Feminists to Facebook: Rape Is No Laughing Matter
So Facebook has a huge woman-problem. The social networking site has been known to deliberately permit the dissemination of gender-based hate speech promoting violence against women. Despite Facebook's strict terms and conditions banning the use of hate speech in its community, it's been allowing violently misogynist content to freely exist as long as it falls under the rubric of "humour." Oh, so you're not allowed to post pictures of women getting raped, EXCEPT if it's the butt of a joke? Apparently, nothing tickles Facebook exec's funny bone like pages entitled "Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus," "Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs" or "Raping your Girlfriend." More than 70% of women across the globe will become victims of violence throughout their lives. When did we collectively decide that was hilarious?
Facebook's biased policy leads to pictures like this one to roam freely and unregulated on the site.
Gender equality advocates have been privately demanding answers from higher management for months now, but since no one was giving them the time of day, they took their demands to the most public forum of all: the internet. Activist Soraya Chemely, Women, Action & the Media's Jaclyn Friedman, and Everyday Sexism Project's Laura Bates, have joined forces and written an open-letter to Facebook. The letter was co-signed by Equality Now, Hollaback!, Fem 2.0 and many other anti-violence organizations.
I know what you're thinking. No one actually thinks violence against women is acceptable. It's funny because everyone knows it's wrong. Unfortunately, that isn't the case. The open-letter cites data from the UK Home Office Survey showing that one third of people still believe a woman is fully or partially responsible if she is raped while she is drunk. One in five people also believe it's acceptable for a man to hit his girlfriend if she's wearing revealing clothing in public.
The open-letter campaign doesn't only target Facebook users and executives, it's also aimed at companies who advertise on the social networking site. Sample tweets have been created by the campaigner for corporate entities such as Dove, VistaPrint and Zipcar. Companies whose advertisement appears on anti-woman pages have already received thousands of tweets. One of Facebook's sponsors, West Host, announced that it would no longer advertise on the site after it received a slew of tweets yesterday.
Join the movement and use these sample tweets:
Your ad is on a page that promotes rape, @audible_com. Will you still advertise with @Facebook? #fbrape http://tinyurl.com/fbaudible
Your ad is on a page that promotes rape, @askamex. Will you still advertise with @Facebook? #fbrape http://tinyurl.com/amexfb
Your ad is on a page that promotes violence against women, @Dove. Will you still advertise with @Facebook? #fbrape http://tinyurl.com/fbdove
Your ad is on a page that promotes violence against women, @ZipCar. Will you still advertise with @Facebook? #fbrape http://tinyurl.com/fbzipcar
Your ad is on a page that promotes violence against women, @Vistaprint. Will you still advertise w @Facebook? #fbrape http://tinyurl.com/fbvistaprint
Why has Facebook remained silent on this issue? Since teenagers posting their rapes on Facebook is now an identifiable trend, isn't it preposterous that the website isn't cracking down on the gender-based hate speech that it can control? "Facebook is losing people. They are already losing younger people and they have many alternatives," Soraya Chemaly told PolicyMic. It's time that Facebook step up and stop allowing gender-based hate speech. If it doesn't, users will leave. Young people are already moving away from the site and they won't hesitate to walk if Facebook refuses to talk.
Let me know what you think on Twitter: @feministabulous and don't forget to use the hashtag #fbrape.