Big news was made last week when Facebook publicly responded to a women’s rights group’s complaint that the site did not do enough to police hate speech on its pages. It vowed that it would do more to identify and eliminate offensive content on the site, particularly content offensive to minority groups and women. They have already landed in hot water again for not taking action quick enough against a fan page showing graphic images of prostitutes in the red light district of Sonagchi in Kolkata, India.
Facebook’s Terms of Service do not permit sexually explicit imagery, yet the pictures on the fan page certainly qualified as that. The site’s “About” section doesn’t give any indication that the page is a hoax or in any way “humorous,” typically the excuse Facebook gives for leaving offensive content up.
“Sonagachi is the largest red-light district in Kolkata, India and one of the largest in Asia,” the page’s About section read. “It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels and estimated 11,000 sex workers.”
And it’s not as if people weren’t reporting the site as offensive: several people did file complaints, but all they received was an email from Facebook saying that they “were not able to confirm that the specific page reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” It was only after Jezebel and The Daily Dot both ran stories about it that the page was finally taken down. Facebook claims that the page wasn’t removed in response to the blog posts, but that it initially wasn’t removed due to a technical error. It’s safe to say that this incident was certainly not what Facebook needed after such a highly visible vow to rid themselves of this exact kind of issue.