After pressure from social activist organizations to ban pro-rape content from their site, Facebook released a statement yesterday acknowledging the failure of their systems to monitor and eliminate hate speech. The statement comes a week after the #FBRape campaign demanded in a petition that Facebook take down all images and pages that supported rape culture and condoned violence against women. In an open letter to Facebook, founders of the #FBRape campaign demanded that Facebook take a public stand against the offensive content that persists on their site. The petition against Facebook collected over 224,000 signatures, and following the release of the letter, 15 companies, including Nationwide UK and Nissan UK, pulled their ads from Facebook stating they would not support the social media platform until it took a stand against rape culture.
Originally Facebook claimed that the content referenced by the #FBRape campaign as being pro-rape did not violate Facebook’s terms of service. But with 15 companies and thousands of people protesting against it, Facebook seems to have had a change of heart, and in a post released yesterday they are cracking down harder to eliminate hate speech from their platform.
“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 In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria.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 systems 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.”
Along with the pledge to do better, Facebook states it will be retraining its employees to better monitor and eliminate offensive content. It will also be working with women’s groups to figure out how to balance free expression with the elimination of hate speech.
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