Facebook recently announced that after receiving numerous complaints from advertisers and women’s rights advocates, they will be changing their policy on any form of ‘humor’ that contains violence against women. FB also says that many women’s advocacy groups will be given direct contact with Facebook staff to alert them about offensive material being posted.
Marne Levine who serves as FB’s vice president of Global Public Policy writes, “We prohibit content deemed to be directly harmful, but allow content that is offensive or controversial. We define harmful content as anything organizing real world violence, theft, or property destruction, or that directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual (e.g. bullying).”
Levine went on to write that FB’s past polices of directed hate and particularly that of gender directed hate have failed. “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…” Levine writes. “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.”
FB listed many new changes in regards to what is considered hateful, but more importantly they wrote that they would begin, “holding 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.”
Of all the social media sites, FB, which is the largest and most popular, is the only one that bans directed hate speech and is clearly stated in their TOS agreement. However, Facebook formerly was lenient when it came to humor or non-serious posts that only hinted or made light of hate or stereotyping other ethnicities.
These recent policy changes also came from FB’s main source of revenue, which is advertising. Many advertisers did not want to see their advertisements on the same pages that may have had posts or images of directed violence towards women.