Women’s groups like Women, Action & the Media (WAM) are praising Facebook for taking a harder stance against violent, sexist content on its site.
Facebook has actually been trying to keep the site clean of hate speech for some time, using algorithms and moderators. But it mostly focused on comments about ethnic groups or sexual orientation.
Last Tuesday, WAM sent an open letter demanding that the company add gender-based hate speech to its list of forbidden content. This led to 60,000 tweets, 5,000 emails, and the backing of over 100 organisations, WAM said in a blog post.
In that open letter, WAM pointed out some really horrific pages and photos on Facebook:
“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.”
Today, Facebook responded. It agreed to add gender-based hate to its list of no-no’s. Facebook says it will do a long list of things to scrub that stuff off of its site, from updating its guidelines to training moderators.
One rule is particularly interesting. If someone is posting borderline material, Facebook plans to out the person, it said in a blog post.
“A few months ago we began testing a new requirement that the creator of any content containing cruel and insensitive humour include his or her authentic identity for the content to remain on Facebook. As a result, if an individual decides to publicly share cruel and insensitive content, users can hold the author accountable and directly object to the content. We will continue to develop this policy based on the results so far, which indicate that it is helping create a better environment for Facebook users.”
Here’s hoping that Facebook can help the Internet become a nicer place, or at least its own corner of the Internet.