To the leaders and admins of Facebook,
In the previous years, your website has transformed from a small college connection website to a monolith that shrinks the size of the globe. Now people thousands of miles away can share ideas and experiences in a way that was only dreamed of by entrepreneurs and Internet users alike. People from all walks of life, with all kinds of identities, use your website to help broaden their horizons and network with like minded individuals. Some even use it to gain support when they are going through tough experience and need a little help along the way. This tool you’ve created has great potential to make the world a better place.
I have made use of this tool since 2008 and have used it for community organizing, seeking out old friends I’ve lost contact with, keeping in touch with relatives, and engaging into dynamic political discourse that has opened my mind to the wonderful ideas the world has to offer. I have been around to see the shifts, changes and successes Facebook has endured.
But along with the good experiences I’ve had using Facebook came many negative experiences. As with any other Internet site, there’s always a chance that people with malicious intent will also spend time on the site, which eventually ruins the experience for other users—sometimes causing unnecessary traumas in otherwise diplomatic settings.
While this may take the form of antagonizing, identity theft, and blatant bigotry, the focus of this letter is to make you aware of the very real presence of misogyny that exists on your page in hopes that perhaps you may address it with more fervor in the future. These pages aren’t simply fringe pages with one or two dozen followers making offensive commentary periodically. There are bigoted pages that have a commanding influence in the website, such as “Masculinist India” which has 20,000 followers and repeatedly makes commentary about women being “inferior” and rape needing to be decriminalized.
Not only that, there seems to be a very real fundamental issue with your reporting system, which in the past has permitted to continued existence of racist and sexist pages but has resulted in the removal of pages that confront this bigotry. A very recent example was the creation of a page called “The Queer, Black Feminist Must Die”, which has been reported by dozens of viewers and has sent death threats to the creator of “The Queer, Black Feminist”. Upon reporting this page for violence, I received a notification from the Facebook admins stating that this page did not violate the Facebook policy.
The page, “The Queer, Black Feminist Must Die” is by far not the only blatantly sexist and racist page Facebook has permitted to exist despite multiple reports. Groups are some of the other places where misogyny and conspiracy to harass are nurtured. Just recently, Facebook finally removed a page called “Misogynists”, which required raising awareness across multiple human rights groups and pages in order to eliminate.
May I ask, why does it have to take massive amounts of effort from the regular users of Facebook to get a clearly sexist, racist or homophobic page/group removed? And to respond to those who report these bigoted pages as “not breaking Facebook policy” when they OBVIOUSLY do? What message are you sending to your users by allowing hateful pages to prosper at their expense?
As a woman poised to undergo treatment for abuse and gender violence, the things that Facebook allows on the website are absolutely appalling to say the least. In fact, one could argue that it has become less of a safe space for all users because of the hostility, threats of violence, and harassment that have gone unpunished for so long. It’s even difficult to partake in discussions about entertainment without running into triggering misogyny.
If nothing is done about the hate speech that saturates the Facebook community and the very broken reporting system currently in place, you risk alienating a significant number of users from your site. Racist and sexist pages/groups should not be permitted to exist, and you need to listen to the reports and concerns expressed by your users when these hostile conditions exist.
I call upon you to address these problems that exists on your website. Users shouldn’t have to fear being harassed, threatened or triggered by sexism, racism, etc if they make use of your website and they should be able to trust that if such a condition arises, you will address it!
Below, I have added various pictures of misogynistic Facebook groups an posts with descriptions as proof of my claims. This includes the aforementioned groups that have been involved in internet misogyny and threats of violence.
I have left the pictures out until the end of the letter because of their hostile nature. For the other readers of this letter, these posts come with a TRIGGER WARNING for extreme misogyny and rape apologism.
As mentioned before, while Facebook will refuse to remove content that is clearly sexist and threatening, below is a picture from a page dedicated to raising awareness about the bigotry in the Men’s Rights Movement, which in 2012 was declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (source posted below). Facebook has removed multiple pages that are designed to raise awareness about this hate group, and has removed many photos from our page called Exposing Men’s Rights Activism.
Here is an example of the kind of Men’s Rights Activist commentary that appears on Facebook.