2013 News

Facebook says it will work to create standards to combat hate speech

I would like to ask you a question: I am sure you have seen pictures of women either topless or scantily-clad with some sort of caption about “making me a sandwich” on Facebook.  If you haven’t, that means that you aren’t friends of friends with somebody under the age of 20. Is this sort of content hate speech or is it humor?

A photo of a woman lying at the bottom of the stairs with a caption of “next time don’t get pregnant.” Is that hate speech or funny?

I am not even close to naming all of them I have seen–mostly because I have no desire to name all the perverted things I have seen on Facebook.  Is what I find depraved the same as what everyone else finds depraved?  The answer to that is no.

Laura Bates began a campaign against the images of gang rape, abuse,  and domestic violence seen on Facebook.  I have personally seen some of the things she is listing here:

  • Images with captions like “Next time don’t get pregnant” and “Now walk it off and get back into the kitchen.”
  • Groups with names like “Raping a pregnant bitch and telling your friends you had a threesome.”
  • Images of children, little girls, with black eyes or semen on their faces and jokes about raping or beating them.
  • Images of disabled girls, with men underneath and the caption “No arms, no legs? No Problem.”
  • Images of women’s faces contorted in pain, pictures of girls screaming.
  • I have seen photographs purporting to show actual rape.
  • Videos of women actually having their heads hacked off with a short knife as you look into their eyes less than a metre from the camera.

The response by most is brushes this off because “it’s just a joke.” But, really?  When is this a joke? When is any of this funny?  Facebook has stated that it will begin reviewing its policy on hate speech due to advertisers removing their ads from Facebook once this campaign began.  Bates and those working with her began to show companies where their ads were being placed and these companies didn’t like where they were placed.

Is a review enough, or should all hate speech be banned?  The question becomes what is hate speech and what is misogyny?  A picture of a woman wearing a 1950’s dress with a caption that says “the good ol days,” isn’t hate speech, it’s an opinion. Maybe a misogynistic one, but still it’s an opinion.  So, is hate speech violent.  Removing violet content showing rape and not tolerating it is a start, but what about the culture of people who would post those sorts of pictures on a public forum like Facebook? I think that is what we need to look into.  Why in this day and age does it seem OK by some to post these sorts of photos?  I really wish I had any idea how to figure this one out.

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