Facebook has finally decided to delete gross pro-rape pages that violated its terms of service. All it took was two months, tens of thousands of petition signatures, dozens of negative articles and a massive twitter campaign.
The whole thing started when bloggers picked up on a bunch of dishearteningly popular pro-rape and sexual assault Facebook pages. Pages like:
- "What's 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife."
- "You know she's playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway" (Over 130,000 likes!)
- "Abducting, raping and violently murdering your friend, as a joke"
- "Don't You Hate it When You Punch a Slut in the Mouth and They Suck It"
- "kicking sluts in the Vagina"
Despite the fact Facebook's policies clearly ban content that is "hateful," threatening" or "incites violence," Facebook initially refused to take down the pro-rape pages. And in the most tone-deaf way possible: By telling activists they were "just a joke."
"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," Facebook told the BBC in a statement. Ha ha, yeah, like those highly-entertaining rape threats people always scream at women at the pub. What pubs are Facebook employees going to?
Unsurprisingly, trivializing the complaints did not make them go away. A Change.org petition gained 186,000 signatures, and a massive Twitter campaign, #notfunnyFacebook, launched. Now, Facebook quietly removed some, but not all of the offending pages. Still, it appears they're letting many rape promoting pages stay as long as they clearly label themselves a joke.
Facebook's reluctance to act on these clearly hateful, threatening pages doesn't fit with their usual trigger-happiness with certain types of borderline content, like nudity—infant, artistic or otherwise. But it makes sense if you consider how ham-handed and awkward Facebook is when it comes to issues of sex and gender. (Not surprising, given its provenance.) As sex blogger Violet Blue puts it, "Sex is the Achilles' heel of all social businesses."
Facebook deals with these sensitive issues about as well as a not-so-enlightened college bro. Facebook deletes photos women post of themselves breastfeeding. College bro is also grossed out when women breast-feed in public—boobs are for poking out of a tube top at the club! Facebook is slightly iffy on the gays. Porn stars are clearly dirty hookers who must be banned outright. And don't even get Facebook started on gender: Male or female. You must pick one! College bro also slept through the gender identity section of the women's studies class he signed up for 'cause he thought it'd be a good way to pick up chicks.
And, in the ultimate college bro move, Facebook brushes off women trying to fight the culture of virulent misogyny that sometimes seems baked into the internet's very code as a bunch of sour ladies who can't take a joke.