A group of women’s rights activists sent a blistering open letter to Facebook earlier this week asking them to consider their oftentimes conflicting set of standards on what they do and don’t remove from the site. For instance, nude portraits and images of breastfeeding have been deemed pornographic and removed from the site, but graphic and brutal images regarding assault and rape remain up.
“In a world in which hundreds of thousands of women are assaulted daily and where intimate partner violence remains one of the leading causes of death for women around the world, it is not possible to sit on the fence,” the group wrote in their open letter. “We call on Facebook to make the only responsible decision and take swift, clear action on this issue, to bring your policy on rape and domestic violence into line with your own moderation goals and guidelines.”
WAM calls on Facebook to take the following three actions to address this issue appropriately:
- Recognize speech that trivializes or glorifies violence against girls and women as hate speech and make a commitment that you will not tolerate this content.
- Effectively train moderators to recognize and remove gender-based hate speech.
- Effectively train moderators to understand how online harassment differently affects women and men, in part due to the real-world pandemic of violence against women.
The letter arrived at the right time; Facebook came under fire last week after a video of three Chicago teenagers committing rape was posted on the suspects’ pages. Facebook’s Terms of Service are rather broad, protecting humor and parody. However, as the open letter convincingly argued, there’s nothing funny about some of the offensive content Facebook allows to live on its pages.