Facebook finally promises to address the darkest corners of its own creation
There are dark corners of the Internet. Child pornography, snuff films, extreme violence, domestic and foreign terrorists, it’s all out there. But it’s extremely difficult to access any of this by accident. Someone uploading photos to their Picassa album will not suddenly find themselves in the middle of a child porn ring.
Facebook’s dark corners are much easier to discover, all you need is a keyboard and an account. No secret passwords, no hidden icon to click to enter into a world so disturbing and so evil, it takes your breath away. It is a world that promotes rape, violence and even murder, all against women. A world about which, until this Tuesday, Facebook refused to do anything.
I know this because I have reported photos and pages many times over the past year. Each report received the same response from Facebook: the content I submitted does not violate their community standards. Three of the things I reported were a photograph of a woman, hog tied and gagged on a couch with text promoting raping that woman, a page featuring graphic photos of beaten, bloodied and murdered women and a page dedicated to “dead hookers.”
My friends have been threatened with rape, murder, beatings, even dismemberment. On a Facebook page promoting Adam Kokesh‘s march this coming July, one man using an obviously fake name has repeatedly threatened women posting comments with which he does not agree, with sexual assault and violence. He has been reported, and yet continues to post and threaten.
Facebook has publicly stated it has a problem understanding the difference between edgy humor and flat-out hate speech, and they prove that every time someone contacts them about pages like “Raping a pregnant bitch and telling your friends you had a threesome.” On Tuesday, Facebook released a note.
In the note, Facebook singled out Women, Action and the Media, The Everyday Sexism Project and my friend and hero, Soraya Chemaly for their tireless work over the past week. Over 15 companies pulled their ads from Facebook and many others were looking at doing the same. Facebook has promised to do more: change its policies, train administrators to better understand their Community Standards, reach out to women’s groups and clamp down on theses hateful and disturbing pages.
My hope is that Facebook keeps its word. But what does it say about Mark Zuckerberg’s company that it took a social media campaign and the threat of losing advertisers to bring to their attention what hundreds of thousands of people have been stating for over a year? So many have sent screenshots, filled out the report forms, tried desperately to attract someone’s attention at Facebook, to no avail. So many of these pages contain triggers for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence, and they are dangerous.
A huge thanks to the men and women who Tweeted, emailed, shared on Facebook and made their voices heard over the past seven days. We used Facebook’s own power-socialization-to change Facebook. We changed Facebook. That’s pretty damn cool.
It’s an honor to join the Quiet Mike team, and I look forward to sharing my “kitchen sink” with you.