Victory! Facebook Agrees to Combat Hate Speech Against Women
On Tuesday, after an onslaught of tweets and emails and facing a growing advertising boycott, Facebook agreed to do more to combat gender-based hate speech.
Woo! We did it! And the crowd goes wild!
In a statement, Facebook admitted that its system for identifying and removing hate speech has been less than effective, and it has pledged to take some concrete steps.
- We will complete our review and update the guidelines that our User Operations team uses to evaluate reports of violations of our Community Standards around hate speech. To ensure that these guidelines reflect best practices, we will solicit feedback from legal experts and others, including representatives of the women’s coalition and other groups that have historically faced discrimination.
- We will update the training for the teams that review and evaluate reports of hateful speech or harmful content on Facebook. To ensure that our training is robust, we will work with legal experts and others, including members of the women’s coalition to identify resources or highlight areas of particular concern for inclusion in the training.
- We will increase the accountability of the creators of content that does not qualify as actionable hate speech but is cruel or insensitive by insisting that the authors stand behind the content they create. A few months ago we began testing a new requirement that the creator of any content containing cruel and insensitive humor include his or her authentic identity for the content to remain on Facebook. As a result, if an individual decides to publicly share cruel and insensitive content, users can hold the author accountable and directly object to the content. We will continue to develop this policy based on the results so far, which indicate that it is helping create a better environment for Facebook users.
- We will establish more formal and direct lines of communications with representatives of groups working in this area, including women’s groups, to assure expedited treatment of content they believe violate our standards. We have invited representatives of the women Everyday Sexism to join the less formal communication channels Facebook has previously established with other groups.
- We will encourage the Anti-Defamation League’s Anti-Cyberhate working group and other international working groups that we currently work with on these issues to include representatives of the women’s coalition to identify how to balance considerations of free expression, to undertake research on the effect of online hate speech on the online experiences of members of groups that have historically faced discrimination in society, and to evaluate progress on our collective objectives.
Care2.com is a member of the coalition of women’s rights and social justice groups requesting that Facebook take action on the very real problem of gender-based hate speech, led by Laura Bates of The Everyday Sexism Project, Jaclyn Friedman of Women, Action & the Media, and activist Soraya Chemaly. In a statement, Women, Action & the Media express hope for making online spaces safe for women around the world.
We are hopeful that this moment will mark an historic transition in relation to media and women’s rights in which Facebook is acknowledged as a leader in fostering safer, genuinely inclusive online communities, setting industry precedents for others to follow.We look forward to collaborating with these communities on actions both big and small until we live in a world that’s safe and just for women and girls, and for everyone.
The campaign elicited 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails, and 15 companies pulled their ads from Facebook. This is truly an example of what we can do when we pull together.
Image credit: Flickr