Facebook provides a platform for misogynists, racists and bullies. The multi-billion dollar website allows seriously ill children to be victimized and it’s so-called policies on abuse and bullying may as well not exist.
A couple of days ago a petition calling for the removal of a Facebook page was brought to my attention. This particular page was about ’12 year old sluts’, with one of the photographs used being particularly vile in that a little girl was shown wearing a t-shirt with the slogan ‘I love cock’. The t-shirt was almost certainly photoshopped and the distribution of the photo, along with vile comments about the child in it, is abusive behaviour. The page remains, saved from removal by the addition of the words ‘controversial humour’. Photos and status updates are posted and the children in them are ridiculed. But this is not bullying, no, it’s humour.
There are lots of similarly titled pages, (the fact that abusive pages about 12 year old Facebook users are permitted to remain is ironic given another of Facebook’s laughable policies – all users must be aged 13 or over). There are also plenty of pages set up to ‘slut shame’ women, these are not jokes they are just pages where women have their photos and information posted to be jeered at, a kind of creepshots on Facebook.
It seems that as long as the word humour is displayed somewhere on the page then any kind of hate speech is allowed. A campaign on rape joke pages last year brought the topic briefly into the media spotlight and a few pages were pulled but most were allowed to remain. One page I looked at recently has several ‘jokes’ that refer to black people as niggers and includes abusive comments about Adalia Rose, along with the usual plethora of woman hating. I reported it, but couldn’t use more than one reason – the procedure is one of ticking boxes, so if you complain of racism then you can’t mention the sexism or report the targetting of an individual, in fact there’s nowhere to report a page that targets an individual unless it’s you or a friend.
One section of the Facebook community standards page says; “We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals”. The ‘people of public interest’ must be the bit they use to defend all the hate pages directed at Adalia Rose.
Adalia is a five year old girl with a condition called Progeria. She has a Facebook page liked by millions of people. She also has a lot of haters. Putting her name into the Facebook search bar brings up a list that shames humanity and shames Facebook. There are pages set up to deride her for being ugly, one page claims she is dead, one suggests people who find her beautiful should masturbate to her and another says that she should have been aborted. All this about a five year old girl with a disease that makes it unlikely she will live into her teens. Adalia’s mother has blogged about the cyberbullying directed towards her daughter. One of her supporters started a petition to ask that Facebook uphold it’s own policies on hate speech, but the pages remain.
It’s hard to understand the motives of people who set up these kinds of pages. I spent a depressing hour or so looking at some of the worst examples, all of which, in my opinion contravened the community standards.
Facebook needs to clean up it’s act. I appreciate that getting rid of these pages won’t get rid of the attitudes that underly them, but removing them at least sends out a message about acceptable standards of behaviour. The more of these pages there are, the more normalised such nasty behaviour becomes. As for the freedom of speech argument that gets trotted out whenever attempts are made to ban hate pages, Facebook doesn’t stop anyone from saying anything to anyone else, it’s just a website, and one that should uphold it’s own alleged standards.
According to Facebook:
“Facebook does not permit hate speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, it is a serious violation to attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”
“Pornography, hate speech, threats, graphic violence, bullying, and spam are not allowed on Facebook.”
Now that’s a joke.
So what is the best way to deal with these pages? Most of them are run by pretty pathetic people and may be best ignored, trolls thrive on negative reaction, but they can cause real damage too. To report them and move on is another option, but it’s frustrating when the monolithic faceless organisation that is fb seems to ignore reports. Last year there was a day of action on twitter, where the hastag #notfunnyfacebook was used to raise awareness of rape joke pages. Maybe another campaign is needed, one that hits them in the pockets. I’d like to see a day of action where all people who want to see hate pages effectively policed left facebook, for a day. It’s easy to delete an account then re-activate it. Perhaps if enough people left Facebook, together as a mass protest, because of pages like these…… it would be enough to make them listen to the complaints and help stop the hate.
Last word to Adalia Rose’s mother, Natalia:
“Please know that we only share her light as a means to promote self-esteem, compassion, beauty and laughter. If you still don’t understand, this only tells us you need Adalia’s strength more than anyone.”
- Cyberbullying: Out of the Playground and Onto the Internet (blogs.lawyers.com)