There has been some unrest in the Facebook kingdom of late, and rightfully so. It seems that Facebook selectively enforces their hate speech guidelines. While ads supporting breast cancer are denied because they show a breast, images of a woman with tape over her mouth that say “don’t tap it and wrap it, tape her and rape her” are allowed to stay as they fall under the category of “poor taste” or “crude attempts at humor.”
Over the past week a movement has started to boycott Facebook and/or companies that advertise on Facebook. People have left Facebook. Companies have pulled their ads. Then Facebook responded, albeit noncommittally.
Many of my fellow bloggers are contemplating leaving Facebook and some of them actually did. I considered it momentarily, but when I realized I’d have no way to keep tabs on the twins’ Facebook activity I decided not to. Of course, it then occurred to me to deactivate their accounts as well, but I’m not sure they’d understand, though I suppose they need to learn to make a stand at some point. I’m not sure I’m ready to explain to them what rape is. I won’t be able to answer the inevitable question of “Why?”. I have no idea why someone would rape another person and I have even further trouble understanding why someone would find it funny.
For now, I guess I’ll wait and see what changes Facebook will make (if any) in response to this criticism. In their response they claim to be retraining the team who reviews content violations and promise to do better at removing gender-based hate material.
I would, however, like to deposit my two cents on this entire issue. First of all, to the Facebook spokesperson who referred to the picture above as only a “crude attempt at humor,” I’d like to say that you, sir, are an idiot. Not only is that picture a crude attempt at humor, it’s also advocating the rape of women. Inciting violence against women. Perhaps by the letter of your Hate Speech policy it’s not hate speech, but let’s use a little common sense here. What if that graphic contained a photo of your mother? Your wife? Your sister? Your daughter? Would you be so quick to dismiss it then? Would you merely shrug it off? Or would you be pissed, as I am?
Secondly, if you want to defend the free speech of the moron that created such a graphic you must also defend the free speech of women who want to show pictures of breast-feeding and companies who wish to show breast-cancer awareness ads. You cannot defend one person’s free speech while denying another’s. Well, you can, but that makes you a hypocrite. You either allow it all or deny it all. You don’t get to pick and choose who’s allowed to have free speech.
Lastly, I’d like to say that I know FAR too many women who have been molested, raped, or physically abused. I will not list them all here as it is not my place to, but even before I was on WordPress (where many victims talk about the injustices they suffered as a therapeutic release) I knew far too many women who had suffered some abuse or another. Advocating rape is not a “crude attempt at humor” as there is nothing remotely funny about it. I would wager if the idiot that created that graphic were raped (and, yes, men can be raped) he would be singing a different tune. Mocking rape is hateful, plain and simple. It is a horrible act in which the physical recovery is the least painful for the victim. It’s psychological impact can be felt for years. Crude attempt at humor? Sure, laugh it up, asshole.
If it is indeed Facebook’s goal to “provide a platform where people can share and surface content, messages and ideas freely, while still respecting the rights of others,” then allowing content which advocates violence against ANYONE is counterproductive to that goal. Facebook, you are not legally required to remove those obscene images, but if you’d like to keep myself and my children, along with millions of women and the men who will stand up for them, as subscribers, you’ll do what’s morally right and remove these barbaric images from your website.
This post was inspired by today’s Daily Prompt.