Facebook commits to crack down ‘rape joke’ pages

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Facebook announced it will try and crack down on pages that include hate speech, particularly “gender-based hate.”

Women Action and the Media (WAM!) and the Everyday Sexism Project started a campaign targeting “rape Jokes” on May 21. WAM! wrote a letter to Facebook demanding they address rape and domestic violence pages on the site.

“Specifically, we are referring to groups, pages and images that explicitly condone or encourage rape or domestic violence or suggest that they are something to laugh or boast about,” the letter read. “Pages currently appearing on Facebook include Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus, Kicking your Girlfriend in the Fanny because she won’t make you a Sandwich, Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs, Raping your Girlfriend and many, many more.”

In response to the online letter, 15 companies including Nissan UK, J Street and Candypolis, agreed to pull their advertising from Facebook.

In addition to the letter, an online petition on Change.org was started asking for Facebook to remove groups that promote sexual violence. More than 225,000 people signed the petition.

According to ThinkProgress, Facebook initially claimed that much of the content WAM! referred to did not violate its current policies.

It seems as if Facebook reconsidered its original position.

“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate. In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our system to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.”

The company promises a review of its community standards on hate speech, update training for the staff that review the content and increased accountability for the creators of these pages. Facebook will also partner with women’s rights groups.

Read Facebook’s full statement here.

Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant


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