Congrats to Women, Action, and the Media and The Everyday Sexism Project for harnessing the power of social media to bring about positive change in well, social media. More than 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails later, the spirited campaign that revolved around the #FBrape hashtag resulted in Facebook admitting that it has failed to remove content that promotes gender-based violence. The company has now agreed to drastically revamp what it considered gender-based hate speech.
It was only a little more than a week ago that a coalition of about 100 women’s rights and social justice groups, spearheaded by Jaclyn Friedman of WAM!, decided to do something about Facebook content that promotes or makes a joke of rape and other forms of violence against women. They urged Facebook users to contact the companies that had advertisements appearing alongside offensive content and to contact Facebook directly about policing such content. Says Laura Bates, founder of The Everyday Sexism Project,
We have been inspired and moved beyond expression by the outpouring of energy, creativity and support for this campaign from communities, companies and individuals around the world. It is a testament to the strength of public feeling behind these issues.
In the social media platform that now boasts more than one billion users, one doesn’t have to search hard to find fan pages, timeline photos and Internet memes that treat gender-based assault as a punchline. Groups with offensive and misogynist names such as “Hope you have pet insurance because I’m about to destroy your pussy” or “Raping a pregnant bitch and telling your friends you had a threesome” are numerous and serve to normalize violence against women. Besides releasing a statement that it would update its user guidelines and moderate gender-based hate speech more closely, Facebook also invited WAM! and The Everyday Sexism Project to provide input on how its new Community Standards should look.
Kudos to both the activists and Facebook for moving forward together to ensure women feel safer in digital spaces! Said a very pleased Jaclyn Friedman,
We are reaching an international tipping point in attitudes towards rape and violence against women. We hope that this effort stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action.