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Facebook admits ‘We need to do better’ and announces changes following #FBrape campaign

Facebook has responded to the #FBrape campaign, which saw Women, Action and The Media, The Everyday Sexism Project and other organisations ask the social media network to end gender-based hate speech on its site.

The campaign started last week, with an open letter demanding ‘swift, comprehensive and effective action addressing the representation of rape and domestic violence on Facebook’.

In a statement on its site, Marne Levine, VP of global public policy at Facebook said: “Facebook’s mission has always been to make the world more open and connected. We seek to provide a platform where people can share and surface content, messages and ideas freely, while still respecting the rights of others. When people can engage in meaningful conversations and exchanges with their friends, family and communities online, amazingly positive things can happen.

“We’ve also found that posting insensitive or cruel content often results in many more people denouncing it than supporting it on Facebook. That being said, we realise that our defence of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as license to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence. We are committed to working to ensure that this does not happen within the Facebook community. We believe that the steps outlined below will help us achieve this goal.

“In recent days, it has become clear that our systems to identify and remove hate speech have failed to work as effectively as we would like, particularly around issues of gender-based hate. In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.”

Facebook announced steps that it will take, including updating its policies and soliciting feedback from representatives of the women's coalition and other groups; increasing the accountability of the creators of content; and establishing more formal and direct lines of communications with representatives of groups.

Jaclyn Friedman, executive director of Women Action and the Media (WAM!), said: “We are reaching an international tipping point in attitudes towards rape and violence against women. We hope that this effort stands as a testament to the power of collaborative action.”

Earlier this week the campaign hit over 50,000 tweets and saw several brands suspend their adverts.

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