New Brunswick

Blogger lauds Facebook's review of hate speech policies

A Fredericton blogger is claiming victory in a campaign to change the way social media giant Facebook deals with images that sexualize and victimize women.

Social media campaign raised awareness over images that victimize women

A Fredericton blogger is claiming victory in a campaign to change the way social media giant Facebook deals with images that sexualize and victimize women.

Last week, Kathleen Pye joined others around the world in an internet campaign to pressure Facebook to act immediately to remove offensive images.

Part of the social media campaign, included notifying companies, such as Dove and Nissan, and explaining to them that they were advertising on sites that used pictures that victimized women.

"So I helped to tweet out messages to various business that had advertisements on those pages without really knowing that they did ... We essentially just kept tweeting every single day," she said.

The stream of Twitter messages from women's groups got advertisers' attention and 13 companies pulled their ads. When the companies started pulling their ads, Facebook announced a five-step pledge to change its policies.

A senior Facebook official released a statement about its new policy on its blog last Tuesday.

"[W]e realize that our defence of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as licence to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence," wrote Facebook's vice-president of global public policy, Marne Levine.

"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."

Collective effort

A group behind the campaign, including the The Everyday Sexism Project, and like-minded observers online celebrated Facebook's promise to tighten up its policy around controversial language.

Controversial images

Women, Action & The Media posted a series of "disturbing" images they've seen on Facebook.

Many of the images feature gruesome scenes and explosive slogans.

Here are some of the images, but be warned that most of the images are extremely graphic.

Pye said Facebook's promise to change its policies is a testament to the power of social media.

"We have a voice when we all work as a collective," Pye said.

"I think that's really inspiring and it helps to know that if campaigns like this come up in the future, you know they do work and it's worth the effort."

The Fredericton blogger said it is important to bring to Facebook’s attention images that ought to be removed from the social networking site.

Pye said it's often hard to get Facebook to remove derogatory images.  Meanwhile images of women breast-feeding are usually taken down right away.

Some of Facebook’s most active users say they often notice material that they believe shouldn’t be on the website.

Zachary Roy, a Facebook user and student, said offensive material goes beyond gender and in many directions.

"I think there is a lot of stuff on Facebook that should be taken down but I don't think that's the biggest issue, necessarily.  There's a lot of really messed up stuff," he said.