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Facebook Sexism

Facebook insists there is no room for hateful content, and that ads are targeted towards people not pages, as Everyday Sexism campaign continues


By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

April 15, 2013 | 3 min read

Facebook has said that there is no place for harmful content on the social media community, and added that it reacts quickly to content which breach its rules, after complaints have been made by Everyday Sexism.

Everyday Sexism, the project created by Laura Bates to raise awareness of the issue, last week complained about several groups on Facebook which were offensive, including ‘This Is Why Indian Girls Get Raped’.

Part of the campaign by Everyday Sexism saw the group tweet advertisers who appeared on these pages, such as Mini and Shelter, asking them if they knew this was going on.

However, Facebook today raised awareness of the fact that ads are not allocated to certain pages, they are chosen based on the viewing habits of the reader: “Adverts on Facebook are targeted towards people not pages. Therefore people visiting Facebook see adverts relative to them to not to the page they are visiting.”

An ad for Dove appeared on a page, now removed, entitled ‘Drop kicking sluts in the mouth’. The company has said that it will be redefining the targeting of its ads to make sure they do not appear on social media pages such as that, and said it reported the page to Facebook when they were informed.

A large percentage of the complaints being made are about the fact that certain pages all on Facebook, but a spokesperson has said that the site relies on users to report content which breaches its rules, and only when this happens can the pages be reviewed.

A main issue, it has been suggested, is that while some content, for example the Why Indian Girls Get Raped page, clearly breaks the rules and is taken down within hours of being reported, there are other pages which mark themselves as ‘controversial humour’, and this has to be taken into account.

Facebook also said that this content tends to take place on closed pages, which means that people need to search to find such pages.

A spokesperson said: “We have removed several of the pages highlighted by the Everyday Sexism Project as they broke our rules. There is no place on Facebook for content that is hateful, threatening, or incites violence, and we will not tolerate material deemed to be genuinely or directly harmful.

“We react quickly to remove reported language or images that violate our terms and we encourage people to report questionable content using links located throughout the site.”

However Everyday Sexism, which celebrates its anniversary tomorrow, has complained that pages which contain certain material, such as breastfeeding, is removed for breaching terms and conditions for featuring nudity, while some pages which are possibly more offensive are not removed.

In a tweet, Everyday Sexism said Facebook ‘specifically refused to remove the pages after they were reported.’

Facebook said that pages which may cause genuine harm are actioned very quickly.

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