Facebook cracks down on hate speech against women
Women account for more than half of Facebook users. When women's rights activists fired off some 60,000 tweets and 5,000 e-mails to advertisers protesting gruesome images, Facebook took note.
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Organized by activist groups Women, Action, and the Media (WAM) and the Everyday Sexism Project, along with Ms. Chemaly, the #FBRape campaign began last week with a call for Facebook users to contact companies whose ads were appearing on pages beside the violent and misogynist content and call for them to withdraw their advertising from the site.Skip to next paragraph
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At issue were not just the violent images themselves, but also the fact that Facebook was failing to delete them when users flagged the photos as hate speech. In one screenshot posted to the WAM site, a user had reported an image of a woman shot in the head with the caption, “I like her for her brains.” Below it, an automated response from the site read, “We reviewed the photo you reported, but found it doesn’t violate Facebook’s Community Standard.”
Over the next week, activists sent out more than 5,000 e-mails and more than 60,000 tweets to advertisers, according to WAM, prompting more than a dozen companies – including Nissan – to pull ads from Facebook.
Facebook, meanwhile, responded almost immediately to the campaign, says Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of WAM. She says the protest's organizers were in touch with the company by Thursday of last week, and had begun discussing how the company could improve its policies.
Facebook, after all, has a reason to be responsive in this case, Ms. Friedman says. “We’re the reason these sites exist, the people on whose data these companies make money. And women increasingly aren’t accepting their treatment in these spaces.”
A study released in April by the Pew Internet Project found that, of all Internet users, 71 percent of women used social networking sites, compared with just 62 percent of men. Female social media users in North America spend an average of 12 hours on social media each week, according to a separate study by the global communications firm Weber Shandwick.
So there’s good reason to take their interests under account, Mr. Kane says. At the same time, Facebook doesn’t want to police the boundaries of good taste, and anyway, a site with a user base of 1 billion can do only so much to ward off bad apples.
“They don’t want to be purveyors of hate,” he says, “but a certain segment of the population will probably always be ugly.”
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