Facebook pays for sexism backlash from advertisers

Tens of thousands of protesters are demanding tougher action from Facebook over posts that they claim degrade women.More than 50,000 have tweeted in support of the FBrape campaign and around 5,000 have emailed brands whose advertising appears around the content.

The campaign focuses on content that portrays rape and violence against women positively. Facebook has removed many examples already- but has not changed it’s overall sexism policies.

A separate petition online has gathered more than 220,000 signatures.

The new campaign has been organised by 40 women’s groups and individuals, including US-based Women, Action and the Media (WAM) and the Everyday Sexism project, a UK-based Twitter feed that encourages women to share incidences of perceived sexism.

In an open letter to the social media giant, the groups demand “swift, comprehensive and effective action addressing the representation of rape and domestic violence on Facebook” and say they are also asking Facebook users to contact companies whose adverts appear around the offending content.

Nationwide, Nissan American Express and Dove beauty products are among the brands affected.

The letter also lists examples of material that the group feels is unacceptable.

They include Facebook groups with titles such as “This is why Indian girls get raped” and individual uploads of graphic photographs showing abused women.

One image of a woman lying at the foot of a flight of stairs is captioned “Next time, don’t get pregnant”.

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project, said that the campaign had been born out of “sheer frustration” from a large number women who had tried to complain about the material and had then contacted her.

“Obviously it’s difficult to moderate a platform with one billion users but it is disproportionately affecting women,” she said.

“Facebook does crack down on issues like anti-Semitism and has been praised for it but when they see images of women being raped they don’t consider that to be a form of hate speech.

“A lot of women are saying it’s preventing them from using Facebook.”

The social network has previously been taken to task for removing pictures of women breastfeeding infants and displaying their chests after mastectomy operations, she added.

“I don’t think you can use the smokescreen of free speech when you take down other images which are often of women’s bodies,” said Ms Bates.

With the cancellation of advertising accounts Facebook seems to be finally getting the message- though in a sign of Facebook’s confusion and incomprehension of the issues they have stated that not all the material that some are complaining about do not actually violate its policies.