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‘Rape’ pages in Facebook crackdown

on 15/02/2019

Facebook agreed to review and update its procedures after a number of advertisers responded to a boycott request from a coalition of more than 100 activist groups.

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The campaign called for the removal of pages that promoted acts of sexual violence, including those with names such as “Fly kicking bitches in the face”, which had more than 30,000 fans earlier today.

Marne Levine, VP of Global Public Policy at Facebook, posted a note on the site confirming that policies would be reviewed and updated, and moderating staff would undergo extra training to be able to better cope with “controversial, harmful and hateful speech”.

“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate,” she wrote.

“In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we would want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using out-dated criteria.”

At least 15 advertisers, including Nisson UK, pulled advertising from Facebook after lobbying from the US-based Women, Action & the Media and the Everyday Sexism Project.

Facebook, criticised in the past for its tolerance of racist pages, has been careful to retain some elasticity in what it defines as “hate speech”, and Levine reminded users that content that may be offensive will not necessarily be banned.

“We work hard to remove hate speech quickly, however there are instances of offensive content, including distasteful humor, that are not hate speech according to our definition,” she wrote.

“In these cases, we work to apply fair, thoughtful, and scalable policies. This approach allows us to continue defending the principles of freedom of self-expression on which Facebook is founded.”

The activist coalition indicated it was “pleased” with the development.

Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women Action and the Media (WAM!), said in a statement on the same organisation’s website: “We are reaching an international tipping point in attitudes towards rape and violence against women. We hope that this effort stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action.”


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