Graphic videos, explicit images and misogynistic words have become all too common on one of the world’s largest social networking sites – Facebook. Journalist, Laura Bates hit her limit after seeing an advertisement for beauty company Dove on a Facebook page called “drop kicking sl**s in the teeth” and tweeted the company a screenshot. Dove swiftly responded to say they did not control where their ads appear and have pledged to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
Bates hopes by making other companies aware of where their advertisements sometimes end up, she will gain more power behind her campaign to remove such content; one web-hosting company has already removed all of their advertisements on Facebook because of where they appear.
The journalist has recently published an open letter to Facebook asking for an end to violent misogynous content. Bates and fellow activists Soraya Chemaly and Jaclyn Friedman have asked three things from the company; firstly they want them to recognise any content and speech that trivializes or glorifies violence against women as hate speech, and to remove it from the site. Secondly they want moderators to be trained to recognise and remove such hate speech, and thirdly, they ask for moderators to be trained to understand how this type of online harassment affects women.
The team have also started a major social media campaign running 24/7 around the world asking Facebook users to get in touch with any advertisers whose ads appear on violent or misogynistic pages. Facebook does already have a policy on hate speech, but at the time the open letter was written the site had various pages trivializing violence and sexual abuse towards women.
Bates understands that the site is not pre-moderated and problematic content will always be able to be posted, she just wants the site to act quicker to remove it and to understand its implications. Facebook are yet to comment and are reportedly in the process of formulating their response.
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