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Facebook: Page advocating murder of feminist blogger “doesn’t violate our community standard on bullying and harassment.”

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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):

facebookharassnoteREdact

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.

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Xanthë
8 years ago

The page skirted around the absolute edge of legality, but it is a clear piece of bullying and harassment and shouldn’t have been needed to be interpreted as a de jure threat to be pulled. On Twitter one of the Facebook employees basically dismissed the page as ‘not a threat’, but that’s sort of the point – the page tried to get as calculatedly close to inciting an act of murder without actually doing so, against a named woman. A friend responded that the Facebook guy must be on crack not to have seen the bleeding obvious.

eseldbosustow
8 years ago

Another reason why I’m not on Facebook anymore.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

They really should just be honest and make “Fuck you, ladies!” the new Facebook slogan.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

“Fuck you, ladies!” would certainly be an improvement. I don’t know why FB and Twitter are so slow to deal with this kind of shit. Are all the employees checking this stuff out men?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

My guess would be that they see the complaint come in, go “oh, it’s those feminists whining again”, and automatically dismiss it. So the answer to your question is “yes”, but insert “stupid, sexist, techie” in front of “men”.

(I’ve worked in the industry, can you tell?)

sarahlizhousespouse
8 years ago

The FTBlogger has written about her history of suicidal ideation. I doubt that the creators of the FB page are unfamiliar with her history as the page calls to legalize “advocating suicide”. They are attempting to trigger her.

CriticalDragon1177 (@CriticalDragon1)

David Futrelle

How does this not qualify as bullying or harassment? Also we know full well what MRAs would be doing if a woman from a prominent feminist organization posted something on Face Book calling for the murder of an MRA

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Extra annoying, advocating for suicide in general is usually legal. Google results for suicide methods have a crisis hotline number and then *gasp* pages on how to do it! And anyone not under a rock knows that physican assisted suicide isn’t some illegal to discuss topic.

No guys, it’s telling people that they, personally, should commit suicide that’s the problem. You want to, say, discuss the details of various poisoning methods? Yeah there’s internet space for that.

(This is not commentary on whether I think there should be said space, my thoughts on suicide, nor anything else besides a case of BUT THEY’RE WRONG)

cloudiah
8 years ago

I remember reading an article about how FB deals with complaints like this; it wasn’t very informative, but what was interesting was all the comments from people both describing content that very clearly violated FB’s guidelines but that still wasn’t taken down, and relating stories of relatively innocuous content that got people temporarily or permanently banned.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

This is Facebook.

Murder threats – sure, why not?
Pictures of babies being breastfed – OMFG that’s offensive, how dare you post it?

cloudiah
8 years ago

They’re also apparently more willing to leave up graphically violent content (videos and such) if it depicts violence committed against dark-skinned people in developing countries.

SittieKitty
8 years ago

This is Facebook.

Murder threats – sure, why not?
Pictures of babies being breastfed – OMFG that’s offensive, how dare you post it?

Well, it’s more:

Murder threats against women – sure why not?
Pictures of women’s breasts in a non-sexualized manner – OMFG that’s offensive, how dare you post it?

I’m seeing a theme develop here…

Ashley
8 years ago

I know of someone who wrote racist statements in status messages where ONE person complained and his profile was immediately terminated, on the spot, without question. If they take racism so seriously, why not sexism or hate speech directed against women?

MaudeLL
8 years ago

This is clear evidence of the profound impact the AVfM Toronto rally had on our culture. Just a couple weeks ago, Facebook was soaking in misandry. Now they are starting to listen to men’s humans rights activists and provide a platform to personally threaten individual feminists.

Christopher Gauthier
8 years ago

I found out about this last night from Pharyngula and immediately reported it. Like everyone else, I got the message that there wasn’t anything wrong with the page. Minutes later it was announced on the comment thread that the link to the page redirected to the Facebook home screen, which it still does. Everyone assumes this meant the page was removed.

I think it’s rather obvious that the original message from Facebook is automatic and when a certain threshold is reached the page is taken down for further review. What’s shitty is that Facebook quietly disappears these things and pretends they never told outraged users that harassment is A-OK with them.

The funny thing in all this is that MRAs think they are proving some point about hypocrisy when one random guy can’t make a Fb page disappear. All they are really proving is that they’re anti-social jerks with a small following and an inability to coordinate their efforts.

kittehserf
8 years ago

Which is why I refer to Facebook’s founder as Fuckerberg and one of many reasons I’ll have nothing to do with his disgusting site.

genderneutrallanguage
8 years ago

Wow, you made a real point with real evidence presented in a responsible manner. Facebook isn’t failing at removing feminist hate speech, they are failing at removing hate speech. This includes all sorts of hate speech, not just the feminists hate speech. Keep it up and you may turn into something more than just a feminist puppet.

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Shut up, GNL, no one cares what you think.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Oh great, look who’s here. Show of hands, who gives a shit about GNL’s opinion?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

My cat is snoring, which is cool, since I needed something to wake me up after GNL’s babble.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
8 years ago

Has anyone ever done a serious study of how Facebook responds to hate speech complaints? Like, with stats showing the frequency of types of response and comparing them based on the type of content they’re responding to? It seems like all anyone has to offer is anecdotes, and while the overall picture seems to show Facebook having wonky priorities (misogyny yes, breastfeeding no), I’d like to see a thorough, cite-able study.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

It seems like they don’t have much of an internal policy, or if they do staff aren’t following it, they’re just kind of deciding things based on whatever the biases of the individual staff member who responds are. Which is a shitty way to run a company.

Athywren
Athywren
8 years ago

I always have to wonder… who are these guys talking to when they post things like that here? I mean, clearly it’s important to remind themselves that believing that women are humans is wildly irrational, but… huh?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

You mean GNL? I figure leaving comments on feminist blogs is the only situation in which he’s able to get women to pay any attention to him.

Athywren
Athywren
8 years ago

I was pretty amused by the “OMG FASCISTS!” response when the original move to get facebook to treat hate speech as hate speech was going on. “Aaah! Feminists are trying to steal my free speech and stopping me from abusing people for no good reason! That’s even worse than Hitler!!” It’s funny, because there already was, at least as far as I’m aware, a policy of restricting abusive speech – I’m quite sure of it, because I fell prey to that policy when I once suggested that an empty tomb didn’t really prove much. (Yes, I’m that much of a monster.) So it seemed to me, at the time, that all they were calling for was a rational and consistent application of that policy.

I think, and stop me if you’ve heard this one, various MRAs of the lurkosphere, that it would be far better to actually keep pressure on facebook to apply that policy rationally and consistently, rather than finding the few occasions where it’s going against you and ever-so-rationally concluding that, “therefore feminism has a stranglehold and men are chattel.”

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