What Facebook tolerates

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.


  1. Stacy says

    An article I came across recently sheds some light on the problem.

    Facebook has over a billion users, and a huge volume of reports to sort through. Most of those reports are petty.

    …nearly 80% of the manual reports I have to read are from people who find themselves offended by something. A recent list of offenses include: (Translated from the the poor excuses for grammar and spelling most of them arrive in)

    “I don’t believe in this coin. It goes against what I believe in.”
    “This fish doesn’t look like a fish, it looks like a man’s private parts, and I have small children around me during the day.”
    “I saw this on my feed and I do not approve please take it off.”
    “This page shared my picture without credit or permission.”
    “Can you remove this picture I don’t like it.”
    “This is not true, my God would never let this happen”.

    Now, forgive me or not, but personally I can assure you of this. In the face of the actual reportable issues that come in at the rate of 250k per hour (emphasis added-sk), I really don’t give a shit if coins offend you, or if you can’t keep your ass off Facebook while you babysit the neighborhood children. What I care about, what really, truly fucking offends me is the fact that after 5 hours of reading through your butthurt sob stories, I find the 7 year old girl who, too scared to tell an authority has figured out how to report a picture her uncle posted of her that was blatantly, obviously sexual, and begged for help. “He says he’s coming over today at 2. Can you please help me, I don’t know what to do.”

    If You Think Your Biggest Problems on Facebook are Photos or Statuses that Offend You – You Have No Idea How Often I Eye Your Account for Deletion

    Thanks to your delicate sensibilities, I didn’t get to read her report until it was 5 her time.


  2. says

    Not sure what your point is, Stacy. Yes, FB is huge and there are a ridiculous amount of complaints to sort through. Many of the are petty.


    The thing that is really damning for FB is that time after time, people report pages similar to the one you mentioned, with actual documentation of crimes, or containing incitement to commit similar crimes, and they get a message back that says that the complaint has been reviewed–by a PERSON–and that those pages do not violate FB’s terms of use.

    Either FB are lying when they claim that real people review these complaints, or they are lying about wanting to follow and enforce their own policies.

  3. mythbri says

    I find the 7 year old girl who, too scared to tell an authority has figured out how to report a picture her uncle posted of her that was blatantly, obviously sexual, and begged for help. “He says he’s coming over today at 2. Can you please help me, I don’t know what to do.”

    I thought children under a certain age weren’t allowed to have FB profiles. Am I wrong?

  4. Stacy says

    Not sure what your point is, Stacy

    Point? My point was to share some information that’s relevant to the topic under discussion. I had no idea before I read the article I shared that “actual reportable issues…come in at the rate of 250k per hour.”

  5. Stacy says

    There’s an update at the bottom of that article that I missed the first time around:

    “I would like to sincerely thank all of the people who have extended kind comments, understanding and their own hands and time to help in any way they can. Because of overwhelming request I would like to offer this. I have created a page on Facebook, added it to the right hand side of the blog so you can Like from there, or just click here. I have made this as a sort of landing page. I am going to make a quick post about this so that anyone that wants to help can certainly feel free to join that page. Thanks again for your great responses to this issue!”


    From the FB page: “This page is for those who have issues with Facebook’s reporting system and more. Admins of atheist/secular/scientific or other pages that are harangued ritually on Facebook should refer to the pinned post for entrance to our support group”

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