Several months ago, you may recall, feminist activists got Facebook to agree to remove blatant sexist hate speech from its site — much to the chagrin of many Men’s Rights Activists, like Paul Elam of A Voice for Men, who declared, in a post filled with alarmist rhetoric, that “feminist ideologues are co-opting Facebook, and they will root out any and all opposition to their worldview.” AVFM’s John Hembling, meanwhile, denounced the feminist activists as “fascists.”
Ever since then, Men’s Rights activists have been playing a game of “gotcha” with Facebook, trying to prove that the hate-speech monitors there only care about misogynist hate speech, and don’t actually care about hate speech directed at men. Every few days, it seems, there is a new thread in the Men’s Rights subreddit purporting to document this alleged “double standard.”
Ten days ago, for example, a Men’s Rights Redditor called dizzy_j got nearly 400 upvotes for a post complaining that “I reported three anti-men Facebook pages for gender-based hate speech today. Only one was removed.” Six days ago, DerDietrich got 580 upvotes for submitting this supposed evidence of a double standard. Trouble is, you can’t actually prove a double standard with a handful of examples.
But I would like to suggest an alternate hypothesis, which also fits the anecdotal data provided thus far by the MRAs, and provide an additional piece of anecdotal evidence that supports my theory and undercuts theirs.
My hypothesis is that Facebook is shitty at recognizing and dealing with hate speech and harassment, no matter whom it’s aimed at.
My evidence for this? Well, yesterday bloggers at Skepchick noticed a Facebook page targeting a specific feminist/skeptic blogger and asking if she “should … be murdered.” The anonymous poster — who identified her by name and posted pictures of her on the page — coyly avoided a literal call for murder, writing instead:
We should not ever break the law. Rather, we should advocate , through lawful land constitutional processes, to have the law changed so that it is legal to kill [name redacted by DF]. Alternatively, we should, where legal, request that [name redacted by DF] kill herself. Relevant laws should be changed so that suicide, and advocating suicide, is legal.
The Skepchick bloggers reported the page to Facebook for its obvious violations of the site’s harassment policies.
And they received this reply from Facebook (I’ve covered up the blogger’s name):
I think it’s fair to say that if Facebook can’t recognize a page calling for the literal murder of someone as harassment there is something very wrong with its system for dealing with harassment and hate speech.
The page has since been taken down, though it’s not clear if it was removed by Facebook or by the original anonymous Facebooker.
Get your act together, Facebook.