Feminist activists FTW!

(Trigger Warning)

I am so excited to give you the update that the #FBrape campaign, launched on May 21, has scored a major victory! Facebook has agreed to update its policies on hate speech regarding images and memes depicting violence against women. Yes!

Here is more information from Women, Action & Media!

Last Tuesday, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants sent over 60,000 tweets and 5000 emails, and our coalition has grown to over 100 women’s movement and social justice organizations.

Today, we are pleased to announce that Facebook has responded with a important commitment to refine its approach to hate speech. Facebook has admirably done more than most other companies to address this topic in regards to content policy. In a statement released today, Facebook addressed our concerns and committed to evaluating and updating its policies, guidelines and practices relating to hate speech, improving training for its content moderators and increasing accountability for creators of misogynist content.

Facebook has also invited Women, Action & the Media, The Everyday Sexism Project and members of our coalition to contribute to these efforts and be part of an ongoing conversation. As part of these efforts, we will work closely with Facebook on the issue of how Community Standards around hate speech are evaluated and to ensure best practices represent the interests of our coalition.

For details regarding Facebook’s response, please visit here.

As regular readers may recall, the #FBrape campaign was launched to draw attention to Facebook’s inaction regarding memes and depictions of violence against women, including pro-rape “humor” pages. The company has already demonstrated a corporate culture of acting on hate speech and depictions of violence in cases involving homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism. The more than 40 coalition members and co-signers (including The Sin City Siren) of an Open Letter to Facebook called on the company to treat violence against women with similar responsible action.


The letter read, in part:

We, the undersigned, are writing to demand swift, comprehensive and effective action addressing the representation of rape and domestic violence on Facebook. Specifically, we call on you, Facebook, to take three actions:

  1. 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.
  2. Effectively train moderators to recognize and remove gender-based hate speech.
  3. 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.

To this end, we are calling on Facebook users to contact advertisers whose ads on Facebook appear next to content that targets women for violence, to ask these companies to withdraw from advertising on Facebook until you take the above actions to ban gender-based hate speech on your site. (We will be raising awareness and contacting advertisers on Twitter using the hashtag #FBrape.)

Specifically, we are referring to groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about. Pages currently appearing on Facebook include Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs, Raping your Girlfriend and many, many more.  Images appearing on Facebook include photographs of women beaten, bruised, tied up, drugged, and bleeding, with captions such as “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up” and “Next time don’t get pregnant.”

Within days, half a dozen companies agreed to withdraw their advertising — which was inadvertently featured on pages depicting and/or glorifying terrible hate speech and violence against women. It eventually built up to at least 13 companies pledging to drop their ads on the social media giant.

I am so proud of our #fem2 online community for having such amazing leadership who truly stepped up and launched an impressive, organized campaign with a great strategy and nimble nerve-center. And I want to give a virtual pat on the back to my fellow online colleagues — scattered all across the country and the globe — who remained vigilant and continued to call-out terrible memes and pages, even in the face of disgusting rape-culture bullying, like this:

The offensive rape-tweet was in response to @MMASammich tweeting this on May 25:

Hey @ZapposStyle: Here’s a brand new screenshot of your ad on a #FBrape page. How many of these pages do you sponsor? pic.twitter.com/CTRi0tYloU

Zappos replied by saying that they had notified their team at Facebook and suggested that people could delete their ads from their timeline by clicking on the “X.” To which Caitlin Roper tweeted:

@ZapposStyle @MMASammich we should delete the ads? Fat lot of good that does #FBrape #notbuyingit

And, because we live in a rape culture, where rape is the inevitability of being female, the response to threatening said rape culture is to immediately threaten rape! It’s almost like Catch-22 (the novel) come to life. If you see rape culture and try to stop it —> you must be threatened by rape culture for threatening to stop it! (If you know you’re insane, then you’re sane enough to continue fighting this war…)

But let’s not dwell on the ignorant trolls, for once. Let’s celebrate that a social media company with the power and influence of Facebook has made a commitment to take action. And as we know, the first step toward progress is getting people to admit they have a problem!

Many, many hugs and kisses to Soraya Chemaly, Everyday Sexism Project, and WAM for their tireless work on this campaign and the work ahead. Thank you for your work! You have made a difference!

One thought on “Feminist activists FTW!

  1. Pingback: Serena, Serena: Williams’ Steubenville comments are a symptom of rape culture | The Sin City Siren

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