An ugly side to Facebook

Here are some pages that Facebook currently DOES NOT allow: “Breastfeeding” and “Reconstructive surgery.” Pages the site DOES allow: “Beat her up” and “Rape jokes.”

Umm?

Two years ago, Facebook users began to pick up on a number of dishearteningly popular pro-rape and sexual-assault pages including: “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife.”

Despite policies clearly banning content that is “hateful,” “threatening” or “incites violence,” Facebook initially refused to take down such pages and told people that, in the most tone-deaf way possible, they were “just a joke.”

In a statement, Mark Zuckerberg also told BBC that, “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining, just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.”

Eventually, FB did decide to delete some hate pages. All it took was two months, dozens of negative articles, a massive Twitter campaign (#notfunnyFacebook), and tens of thousands of petition signatures (a Change.org petition gained 186,000 signatures).

However, a BuzzFeed article posted Tuesday showed that the site didn’t take down all posts. Here are just a few of the many examples that are still allowed:

A picture of a young woman holding a sign that reads: “30 percent of women killed are murdered by their boyfriends or husbands.” Beneath the photo is the caption: “30 percent of women should have just shut the (hell) up.”

A close up picture of a woman’s taped mouth. The caption: “Don’t Wrap It And Tap It, Tape Her And Rape Her.”

A user tried to report the last photo on May 26. Facebook’s reply, “Thanks for your report. We reviewed the photo you reported, but found it doesn’t violate Facebook’s Community Standard on hate speech, which included posts or photos that attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or medical condition.”

A clear example of Facebook’s double standards over moderation is this: a female FB user had a double mastectomy due to breast cancer. She posted photo of her breastless chest, which she tattooed a multicolored bra over. She wanted to convey that she was strong and feminine. Within 24 hours, the site removed the post, citing the photo as “offensive” due to nudity.

On the flip side, earlier this year, the page “This Is Why Indian Girls Are Raped” required multiple reportings, being banned and then unbanned, before being finally taken down for good.

Activists on Twitter and Tumblr have been organizing under the #FBrape hashtag. Many have questioned Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook and self-described on Twitter as a “mother of two, wife of an awesome guy, friend to many great women,” why she would allow such material to be posted.

Many claim freedom of speech. Others argue that some people (i.e. feminists) can’t take a joke.

As history and statistics show time and again, many things start as a joke, become normalized and then turn into reality. Posts like this encourage violence against women because it shows that society condones it.

Sarah T. Schwab is a Sunday OBSERVER contributor and Fredonia State graduate. Send comments to

editorial@observertoday.com

or view her Web site at www.SarahTSchwab.com