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.