stopviolenceuw

Facebook Friend or Foe?

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2011 at 5:46 pm

*WARNING: Some of the content in this post could be triggering.  Please read with caution.*

I think it’s safe to assume that a strong majority of students have a personal Facebook page and use it quite frequently as a social networking tool to stay in touch with friends and family, keep up to date on different events/offices on campus, and following different fan pages with like-minded individuals all over the world.

I’m a huge Facebook fan.  I’m on it at least once a day and update pretty frequently.  There are pages and such on there that I’m not a big fan of, but generally speaking, I just ignore them and move on – they’re just not my thing and that’s fine.  But I was shocked and disgusted to learn about rape-supportive pages and jokes forming all over the website.

Some of these pages include, but are not limited to:
Kicking Sluts in the Vagina
— I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap (removed)
— Riding your Girlfriend softly, Cause you don’t want to wake her up (removed)
Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend, as a joke
— What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me?  My knife. (removed)

I mean, even if you just type in the word “rape” into the search bar and check out the pages, amongst the resources for survivors of sexual violence and anti-rape advocacy pages, you’ll find things like:
Rape Dungeon
Mind Rape
I love the smell of RAPE!
its not rape if you yell “SURPRISE!”
Facebook R A P E Dungeon

In an effort to rid Facebook of this inherently violent pages. Change.org set to work gathering over 187,000 signatures for the removal of these pages – not only because they promote sexual violence, but because they blatantly violate the Terms and Conditions set forth by Facebook in the first place.  By signing the petition, you are signing your name to the below letter sent to Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO of Facebook), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO), and Andrew Noyes (Facebook PPCM):

Greetings,

As shocking as it may seem, the following are actual pages on Facebook: “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina,” “I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap,” and “Riding your Girlfriend softly, Cause you dont want to wake her up.” These are but a few of the anti-woman hate groups on Facebook that need to be taken down immediately.

Facebook’s own Terms of Service prohibit content that is “hateful, threatening,” or contains “graphic or gratuitous violence” (Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Section 3, item 7). Moreover, users are specifically barred from posting content that aims to “bully, intimidate, or harass” any user. Any reasonable person can see that groups that promote rape and violence against women clearly violate those terms.

While these groups already cross into prohibited territory, Facebook could and should do more to stop them from popping up in the first place and to swiftly remove those that do exist. First, Facebook needs to clarify that pages that encourage or condone rape –like the ones mentioned above– are in violation of their existing standards. Secondly, they need to make a statement that all pages that describe sexual violence in a threatening way will be immediately taken down upon being reported. Finally, Facebook must include specific language in their Terms of Service that make it clear that pages promoting any form of sexual violence will be banned.

It is time that Facebook took a stronger stand in enforcing its own policies. Please take action on the above items so that Facebook does not become a gathering place for sexual sadists and predators.

[Your name]

After the first round of signatures was submitted, Facebook responded in a BBC interview:  “It is very important to point out that what one person finds offensive another can find entertaining – just as telling a rude joke won’t get you thrown out of your local pub, it won’t get you thrown off Facebook.” (August, 17, 2011)

Now, there are lots of offensive jokes out there – racial, religious, ethnic, and gender slurs – that are vastly inappropriate and offensive.  And while I personally feel that this “microaggressions” contribute to a culture of intolerance, hate, and violence, I suppose I can bend so far as to simply not support their existence (although it makes me sick at heart).

But when it comes to directly promoting violence and making a joke of a serious act and belittling the experiences, feelings, and hardship experienced by survivors for the sake of a joke or fulfilling some sick need to hurt other people, there can be no tolerance.  They need to be eliminated immediately if not sooner.  Period.   We don’t need to subject our survivors to any further violence and aggression than they’ve already experienced.  And if I heard someone make a “rape joke” in a pub, you can bet your ass that I would say something.

As of yesterday, Monday, Nov. 7, Facebook began removing some of the offensive sites without a word after a very successful Twitter campaign (#notfunnyfacebook) brought the issue to the forefront where it could no longer be ignored.

While there is cause to celebrate this small victory, there are still MANY sites active on Facebook and the company has apparently refused to take a take a hard stance on what they intend to do with any current and future sites.  Therefore, advocates are trying to encourage Facebook to take a stronger stance on the issue.

The partners behind the petition are now demanding the Facebook:

  1. Make a public statement that rape is never acceptable; that promoting sexual violence and violence against women is repugnant; that Facebook will remove content that advocates rape, sexual violence, and violence against women.
  2. Address in a public statement that the previous “pub joke” defense was poorly stated, explaining that alleging humor does not give a free pass to promote any hate content; that Facebook does not consider promoting violence against women or sexual assault to be funny; and that such content will be held to the same standard as any violence against any other group or individual.
  3. Ask for Facebook to be transparent about the content monitoring process; to state publicly if and how many pages they currently remove that promote sexual violence or violence against women; and to work with groups that fight violence against women and sexual violence to improve the safety of their community.
  4. Update the Terms of Service/Community Standards to specify that: “Content earnestly promoting violence against women or sexual violence violates Facebook’s terms of use and will be removed whenever reported.”

To further support this cause, we need to continue adding signatures to the petition and strive to make the Facebook conglomerate realize that there is NOTHING funny about rape and that such “jokes” need to be recognized for what they are – aggression and violence that promotes sexual assault and rape, not just against women but against everyone.

A writer once said: “Our culture isn’t something we merely consume.  We also participate in creating it.”

I, for one, refuse to be a part of a consumer culture that promotes rape and laughs sexual violence off as a joke.  I have signed the Facebook petition as a small, personal step to create a new culture that says, “This is not acceptable.”

Join me in the fight towards ending a culture that promotes sexual violence.  Tell Facebook that there is no such thing as a rape joke and that such comments/pages/groups need to be removed immediately!

To sign the petition, visit: http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-facebook-remove-pages-that-promote-sexual-violence

To report a page to Facebook, go to the offending page and click on “Report Page.”  You will then need to cite the reasons why you feel the page should be blocked.  Please take action and report any and all pages you find that promotes rape culture.  Thank you for your activism!

For more information about the recent changes made on Facebook, visit: http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/11/07/without-comment-or-apology-facebook-quietly-removes-rape-joke-pages/ or http://m.zdnet.com/blog/violetblue/facebook-finally-removes-its-pro-rape-pages/788.

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