Last week the social media campaign #FBRape was launched to demand that Facebook remove all content on the site that condones rape and violence against women. In a letter to Facebook, the campaign creators Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, writer and activist Soraya Chemaly, and Jaclyn Friedman from the nonprofit Women, Action & the Media, not only demanded that Facebook take down the pro-rape content but also wants the social media giant to revise their terms of service to prevent violent content from resurfacing its site in the future.
“We created the campaign because of a long build up of frustration amongst female users and women’s groups internationally at what we perceived to be a serious problem in Facebook’s methods of dealing with content relating to rape and domestic violence,” campaign co-creator Laura Bates shared with NMR. “Despite the efforts of many to raise awareness of the problem or contact Facebook, change simply didn’t seem to be coming, so we launched the campaign as an international effort to try to have a real impact. I hope the campaign empowers women and social media users and enables people power to create cultural change.”
Facebook’s terms of service state that the platform prohibits the posting of any content that is hateful and threatening or that contains “graphic or gratuitous violence.” Yet the social media platform allowed pages such as “Kicking Sluts in the Vagina,” “I Know A Silly Little B*tch That Needs A Good Slap,” and “Riding Your Girlfriend Softly, Cause You Dont Want To Wake Her Up” to remain active.
“We felt it was important to tackle the increasing role of online images and content in normalising and creating a cultural acceptance of violence against women. This is particularly relevant on Facebook for two reasons: firstly because it is such a huge network with over a billion users and therefore has a huge social impact and the power to influence cultural norms; secondly, because Facebook is not the internet — it is a company that already chooses to moderate and censor what material it allows on the site and what it considers unacceptable — so within the context of their choice to ban, for example, some images of breastfeeding women, we decided to ask them to reassess the acceptability of images and content depicting rape and domestic violence,” said Bates.
The #FBRape campaign has collected over 222,800 signatures in the past seven days including the signatures of over 100 international women’s and human rights organizations. To continue to place pressure on Facebook, the campaign also asked major companies such as Dove, American Express, Sure and Sky to remove their ads from Facebook until the platform agrees to all their demands. Facebook has since taken down many of the pages marked by the campaign as offensive but has yet to change their terms of service or release a public statement on the issue.
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