It’s funny how there’s Sheryl Sandberg, and there’s also Facebook. Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, and she’s a critic of sexist stereotypes, yet…Facebook is notoriously bad at doing anything about overt, vicious misogyny-mongering on Facebook. Soraya Chemaly wonders why that is.
For example, this morning, a Duracell battery ad is visible on a group page called “I kill bitches like you;” Sexy Arab Girls, “join our page for more porn videos,” was sponsored by the Wilberforce Dinner “Honoring Cardinal Timothy Dolan,” and the now-removed page, “Domestic Violence: Don’t Make Me Tell You Twice,” populated by photos of women beaten, bruised and bleeding, was the platform for Vistaprint.
“We occasionally see people post distasteful or crude content. While it may be vulgar and offensive, distasteful content on its own does not violate our policies,” a Facebook spokesperson explained, when I asked what Facebook’s response to similar pages is.
“However, there is no place on Facebook for content that is hateful, threatening, or incites violence, and we will not tolerate material deemed to be genuinely or directly harmful.”
Ah but you do. You do tolerate it. You tolerate it all the time – while not tolerating content that is critical of religion and theocracy.
To the founders of Rapebook, a page started last fall to “tackle misogyny on Facebook by sharing and reporting pages”, content trivializing sexualized and domestic abuse is intrinsically hateful and harmful. Immediately, the page became the target of massive trolling and administrators were threatened with violent rape and death and bombarded with graphic images and porn. Posts, such as one urging people to give a donation to an anti-violence campaign at Amnesty International, generated more than 100 comments, including “fuck that. hit that hoe (sic),” and “Domestic violence is a 2 way street you hypocritical cunt.” This suggests hostility. Which might provoke anxiety. And create an environment that does not feel safe to the average woman.
The response to that is “professional victims,” “drama,” “special snowflake,” “sisterhood of the oppressed,” “they do it to drive up the blog hits” and similar.
Despite the fact that Facebook representatives may have done their best to work closely with Rapebook, the administrators closed the page after months of receiving up to 500 messages a day, including photographs of actual rapes and child pornography. Hendren’s photo was used to create rape memes. She has left Facebook. It’s important to note that people who supported Rapebook’s efforts were unwilling to publicly show their support in Facebook, for fear of similar targeting.
How is this not a loss of free speech for these users (overwhelmingly women), resulting from bullying, harassment and misogyny? The people left feeling comfortable at Facebook are rape apologists and those who create content glorifying the debasement of women.
The response to that is that it’s only the evil sisterhood of the oppressed women who leave because of misogynist harassment, and that’s fine because everybody hates them so ha.