Facebook has a lot of explaining to do…

Facebook is currently under fire for its approach to displaying pictures of graphic violence against women. If you wish to see some example of the material that’s been going up, click here or here (but only do so if you have a strong stomach and are NOT likely to be seriously affected by this type of content), or go follow the #FBrape thread on twitter.

So far, so bad, but this morning, i noticed something else pretty revolting: that FB is actively linking this sort of material to material that deals with straightforward sexual politics. Gender queer. Feminism. Transgender. Wtf!

Let’s start with the material itself. It is truly stomach-churning. Lad’s “humour” that makes much of “raping bitches” or “jokes” that append captions like “because you shouldn’t have to ask her twice” to pictures, presumably photo-shopped, of victims of serious violence.

The usual free speech groupies have been out and about on this, but they miss the point entirely. No-one is asking for special treatment here. FB already has clear community guidelines over hate speech…and will pretty automatically pull content that incites hatred in respect of race or orientation. So should it turn out that they are slower to pull similar material in respect of women, then that’s FB sending out a pretty clear, pretty dire message straight off.

(Quick thought experiment here: for anyone who attacks women and feminists for clamping down on free speech, do ask what their response would be to a pic of a dead and mutilated soldier…a drummer, perhaps…captioned “because you shouldn’t have to ask them twice (to leave)”. No, folks. I’m not advocating such a thing for one moment: merely wondering aloud whether this free speech argument is REALLY so all-encompassing as some folks pretend it is).

The other point is that FB has performed some pretty nifty footwork over the years on anything THEY deem to be porn. Er, breastfeeding. Pages talking about life post-mastectomy. Again, FB has demonstrated its more-than-willingness to remove stuff that doesn’t fit within its cosy heteronormative family-friendly envelope…but is stubbornly defending its record on hate speech against women.

Or rather, what it is saying is. Lads will be lads. A laff is just a laff. And don’t frighten our grannies by talking about sex and sexuality SERIOUSLY.

Actually, they are also claiming that they are taking down much of this material pretty quickly – though i am less convinced, as i am seeing far too many instances of complaints being responded to with “this material does NOT breach community standards. Anyone with evidence either way, please drop me a line.

Meanwhile, here’s the thing. I clicked thru, this morning, to a couple of the sites/FB pages identified as being so horrific. A couple of pages headed up with titles like “Rape bitches”. I suspect you can guess the sort of thing.

I was somewhat shocked to see below the main page header the following message:

Other Pages in the same category that friends have liked

And what sort of pages might those be? Er, “Genderqueer”, “National Coming Out Day”, “Feminism”, “Transhumanism”…and a fair few more in the same vein.

I don’t get. Or rather i do. What do these pages have in common? Well, they talk about gender and sexual issues. That’s, you know, like the same thing as a page about “raping people for fun”. So feminism and rape-as-a-laff are, for FB, much of a muchness. Ditto anything that touches on sex and sexuality.

Because – is it really this simple – (american) guys can’t really get their heads around the difference between sex, doing sexual abuse, and discussing the politics of same.

I am shocked. Obviously there is some sort of dumb FB algorithm behind this. But whatever it is, it is offensive in the extreme.

Janexx

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About janefae

On my way from here to there
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6 Responses to Facebook has a lot of explaining to do…

  1. I think by ‘category’ they mean category of the page, not thematic content. Pages can be classified as ‘business’ ‘interest group’ ‘university’ ‘fan page’ etc. if the moderators of the pages all categories them as ‘interest group’ then they’d all be in the same category. I really don’t think it’s a case of Facebook conflating gendered violence with feminism or LGBT issues.

  2. thank you for writing this – it’s hard to put something that makes you choke with disgust so calmly x

  3. Bev says:

    Surely we, in the UK, have some sort of legal comeback on this? I recall that the previous govt introduced some legislation about graphic images online and even posed shots were deemed to fall within that legislation. I am unsure of the exact laws but I think it is this one
    —–
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_63_of_the_Criminal_Justice_and_Immigration_Act_2008

    …an image “of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal”) which is “grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character” and portrays “in an explicit and realistic way” any of the following:

    An act threatening a person’s life
    An act which results (or is likely to result) in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals
    An act which involves (or appears to involve) sexual interference with a human corpse
    A person performing (or appearing to perform) an act of intercourse (or oral sex) with an animal (whether dead or alive)
    and a reasonable person looking at the image would think that any such person (or animal) was real.

    The term covers staged acts, and applies whether or not the participants consent.[4][5]
    —–

    Now although the photos belong to INDIVIDUALS who posted them, a warning to Facebook from the UK Govt would surely carry some weight and if any of those posters live in the UK then they are subject to the law.

    • janefae says:

      the key to that legislation, though, is “for the purposes of sexual arousal”. And since i have probs of my own with the detail of s63, i don’t see that as helpful here.

      And no: Government won’t extend the law out so that it covers graphic images irrewspective of the sexual bit, since then they’d suddenly find themsevles in a morass of trying to frame legislation to catch this and NOT some Hollywood blockbusters….

      Janexx

    • and be careful what you wish for… the law you quote Bev is a strict liability law based on possession of the images not the publishing… so were the images being discussed covered by the law everyone who has been to have a look at them would be in breach of the law.

  4. caroluren says:

    Just in case you are not aware of it Jane, there is an online petition urging Facebook to act on this type of post – I urger all of you to go and sign it – and then share on your own personal Facebook pages:-
    http://act.watchdog.net/petitions/3098?share_ref=N5m2sqEUSmM

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