Without Comment or Apology, Facebook Quietly Removes Rape-Joke Pages

After more than three months of complaints from users, a grand total of over 200,000 petition signatures (186,000 of them on a single Change.org petition), a Twitter campaign, the withdrawal of several major advertisers and an outpouring of harsh criticism from a multitude of feminist activists and writers, Facebook has finally removed rape-humor pages from the site. Surfing Facebook, you will no longer find a page titled, “What’s 10 inches and gets girls to have sex with me? My knife.”

At least for today. Facebook’s capitulation appears to be grudging: The social media behemoth has given no indication that it will remove such pages if they reappear. Nor has its apologized for its three-month failure to act. Facebook has not even recanted its initial response to the campaign, which was to refuse to take any action against the pages, dismissively comparing them to “rude jokes” that “wouldn’t get you thrown out of a local pub.”

In response to Facebook’s apparent lack of willingness to take a firm stance against all content that endorses sexual violence, the partners behind the petition, such as Women’s Views on News, are demanding that the networking giant:

  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; and that the Terms of Service/Community Standards will be updated to specify this.
  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 a joke or 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 are removed that promote sexual violence or violence against women; and to establish relationships with experts in sexual violence and violence against women who will help identify content that needs to be removed.
  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 accordingly be removed whenever reported.” In addition to the internal reporting system, provide a public contact email for users to register complaints about content that violates the terms of service/community standards, that will acknowledge receipt and respond with a decision on whether or not to remove.

It’s a relief to see the pages gone. But the victory means very little without a commitment from Facebook to take sexual violence seriously in the future.

And what’s all the more frustrating is that this partial victory should not have required such a massive effort. It should not have taken Facebook a second thought to realize that “jokes” about rape should be counted as speech that is hateful, threatening or incites violence–i.e., speech that is banned under Facebook’s Terms of Service. But because we live in a culture that accepts, condones and makes light of sexual violence, those conclusions are—for many people—not so obvious. And that’s why we have to keep asking the larger question: What does it mean to live in a society where it is this difficult to convince people that jokes about rape are simply not okay?

You can add your name to this Change.org petition to let Facebook know that we won’t let up until takes a firm policy against sexually violent hate speech:

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Comments

  1. I just want to say thank you for posting this- I had no idea this even happened! Unreal!!! I’m glad Ms. Magazine and other pro-feminist organizations voiced their outrage and took action. As a woman who’s faced that violence, I thank you for devaluing its promotion and continued usage.

  2. I find it very hard to believe that much action has taken place at all to be honest. Type into the search box “You know she is ” and see the offensive pages still there (eg. you know she is playing hard when you run out of rope, have to use chloroform, have to resort to weapons etc). Or “Roses are red ” and so on. There are still far too many offensive pro rape pages on facebook, we must demand more action!!

  3. Feminist Metalhead says:

    I depise fakebook.

    • snobographer says:

      I do too, but it’s getting to be the only way you can contact people or businesses anymore.

      Kate’s right, they still have pro-rape pages up, and were very resistant to taking any down, issuing the usual BS defenses of “satire” “free speech” and “gallows humor.”

    • I despise Facebook as well.I’m also a feminist metalhead!

    • Me to- so, I deleted my account. I will NEVER return. If the only way someone wants to reach me is through that horrible site, then they can forget it. I support a full boycott and mass withdrawal of accounts. I mean, it’s free to use because they steal your information for market research. And, they don’t have to pay you!

  4. This is just beyond egregious. We WONDER why our society persists in treating women like second class citizens…and yet… rape jokes are ‘ok’, laws that prohibit women from being able to have safe abortions are ‘ok’, and it’s ‘ok’ for politicians to harass and pay off female co-workers out of sight of the press and public.

    Lets face it… women have made advances and that fact is making men edgier and edgier. Expect this kind of hate filled experience to continue. :(

    • I am a 27 y/o female currently serving the United States Air Force in Afghanistan.

      If you really think we’re being treated like second class citizens, you need to come over here and take a good hard look at how these women are treated and realize that we have it very good. Americans are spoiled and lazy, and the feminists are just as bad as any terrorist group. This isn’t the 1800′s, we aren’t property, we are allowed to vote and do everything that men can do. We have all the same rights. Why are you still pushing for more? More means that you don’t want to be treated as equals, it means you want to be treated better.

      Please get over yourself. All of you.

      • First off. Thank you so much for what you’re doing over there. My brother was in the Air Force and I have an extra special place for all who serve since he passed.

        Secondly, while I agree with your comparison that women in America have it better than some, we are NOT treated equal. We still get paid .70$ to the dollar what men do. All it takes for me to feel and be treated different from a man is to just go and be in public. Even my friends who can be very open-minded and socially conscious can treat women differently. Female friends included. It is our society that facilitates this and whether you’re willing to see it or not, it is there.

        To condone one wrong just because there is a greater wrong elsewhere just doesn’t make sense. Yes they have it rough, yes we have more rights then ever before, but no, we are not treated or even viewed as equal and no, it is not okay.

        • Thank you for your service!

          That is the problem with the word feminism. We are not out here looking for equality within the United States. We are going global. Look up ” Girl Effect.” We need to realize that feminists are not just looking at women issues. We are looking at environmental issues. Feminism is the empowerment of women to make a difference in the world.

          So Afghanstian’s women are treated poorly, but we are trying to work with that.

  5. Having joined the campaign by signing the change.org petition, tweeting, posting on facebook, and contact facebook directly to complain, I’m delighted to see the page has been removed. It might only be one facebook page, but it’s a significant display of the way in which social media can be called to account.

  6. What about us starting a page on castration men who are pigs? I wonder how fast FB will respond to that and base on it we can assault it for prejudice — if they delete it too quickly, they are depriving us from “freedom of speech” (why rape jokes can be around but castration jokes cannot?) and we can stand more boldly and stick with our guns and demand FB to just delete all other rape jokes pages.

  7. oops, castrating men who are pigs, not castration — typo!

  8. Holy, freaking, crap. I could understand if they were saying shit like, “Meet here at this time and we’ll organize a rape party.”

    Or actually posting pictures of rapes, stuff like that.

    But so many people are that offended by jokes? That means that about 85-90% of the other facebook pages are going to have to be taken down because everything offends someone.

    I personally don’t like when people discuss their newborns, or make jokes about miscarriages, having had a miscarriage myself. But you know what, I realize that jokes are jokes, and if I found a page devoted to miscarriage jokes, I would simply not go to that page!

    I didn’t even know this rape joke page existed because I don’t go looking for that shit, so maybe people shouldn’t be trolling the internet looking for other people to bother.

    • You say that, yet you commented on this page twice.

      Rape jokes normalise a serious crime, are generally directed at women and reassure actual rapists that rape is okay. That’s why they’re bad.

      And as there is a huge proportion of women in the armed forces (that you claim to be a part of) have suffered from sexual assault, your attitude seems a little strange.

    • The issue of humor and oppression/violence is a massively complex one involving all kinds of different power dynamics and vulnerabilities (so complicated, in fact, it would be very difficult to fully discuss it here), but this site gives one simple reason showing why these jokes are a problem and why we need to speak out against them when we hear them (plus it has some very scary stats to explain it’s point):

      http://oforganon.tumblr.com/post/11150747104/to-a

  9. Yeah but paedophilia is funny, right? This page is still there despite frequent reporting. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Using-a-pedometer-

    For those with a bit of time – how about taking some screen shots and emailing the advertisers appearing on those pages. I’m sure they’d be happy to know that they are ‘sponsoring’ this crap.

  10. The terrorist and the policeman both come from the same basket.

  11. Make a public statement that rape is never acceptable

  12. All the rape jokes are back and we are still fighting the same wars against Facebook with no change. http://www.elephantjournal.com/2012/11/does-facebook-have-a-misogynistic-agenda-the-policy-department-responds/

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