There’s a campaign right now to try to get Facebook advertisers to pull their ads because Facebook refuses to shut down pages that advocate violence against women (including rape).
In an open letter to the organization, the groups point out that Facebook’s content moderators already police some images of women. In fact, images of mastectomies, breastfeeding mothers, and other non-sexualized depictions of women’s bodies are often removed from the site after being incorrectly labeled as pornographic. On the other hand, however, images and forums that make light of abusing and raping women are allowed to remain on the social media platform under the “humor” section of their content guidelines.
“It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse,” the groups’ open letter reads. “Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.”
Facebook currently allows pages on its site called “Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus,” “Violently Raping Your Friend Just for Laughs,” “This is why Indian girls are raped,” and “Punching your girlfriend in the face cuz you’re Chris Brown.” The social media site also permits pictures of battered women who are bleeding, bruised, tied up, or drugged alongside captions like “This bitch didn’t know when to shut up.” Women, Action & the Media has collected several additional graphic examples here (trigger warning).
I wholeheartedly admire that campaign and hope it succeeds. The only way Facebook will truly listen to the concerns of women and girls regarding these bullshit pages is if they lose money because of them. Facebook doesn’t really care about their users because they’re aren’t worried about their users.
However, there are millions of users on Facebook and that’s a freaking goldmine for the advertisers. So what do they do? Why they pass the buck, of course. Here’s what Vistaprint had to say:
We are aware of the issue surrounding some of our Facebook ad placements earlier today. Vistaprint does not condone or endorse any offensive content or pages. We’ve discussed this issue with our partners at Facebook and have been assured that these pages have been removed. Our ads on their platform are targeted at individual users, not tied to the content or pages created by users on the Facebook platform. If you see a Vistaprint ad on an offensive page, please visit the link below and report it. Facebook’s Operations team monitors user feedback on offensive content/pages and will remove the page.
Thank you for your understanding.
-Vistaprint social media team [Emphasis mine]
They are assured that all of these pages have been removed, you see, and really they aren’t placing them on the pages– they’re targeting individual users! So if you go to that page the ad will follow you. It’s not their fault! Why don’t you pick on someone else?
The comments on that page are folks angry with the message and telling Vistaprint that they’ll be boycotting their product– while logged into Facebook.
Vistaprint is on Twitter. There’s no need to go to their Facebook page to leave a message for them.
You see, they would be losing money by buying ads on Facebook if those same people were boycotting Facebook too. If these folks decided they’d had enough of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook not giving a fuck about violence against women– while simultaneously deleted pages and pictures of women breastfeeding or showing mastectomy scars– they could simply delete all of the their content and stop giving them their traffic1. The ads wouldn’t be following them over to the rapist’s page because they wouldn’t be going to that page and pretty soon companies like Vistaprint and Dove no longer find value in spending money on those ads.
There’s no reason to be on Facebook to tell those companies you’d be boycotting them while they continue to advertise on Facebook. They have a presence on every social networking site. Tweet them, email them, put up pages on Google+. But boycott Facebook too. Take away what makes them money.
I’ve not been on Facebook for quite a while. I have my own issues with that site and how they sell the people who use it. I’ve heard plenty of people complaining about them too. They don’t want to delete their profiles, though, because that’s how they keep up with distant family and friends from high school that they never really liked in high school but they’re on Facebook so that makes them cool. Blah blah blah. Shit, one of the things I hated about Facebook was that people I couldn’t stand in real life could find me on the interwebz. At any rate, to them I say: Email, phone, tweet, Google+, Pinterest, etc etc. Honestly, people convince themselves that the need Facebook, but really they don’t. They just don’t want to be that one person who doesn’t have a FB.
“You seriously don’t have a FB?”
“No and I think you’re fucking nuts for feeding the Zuckerberg monster yourself.”
That’s usually a conversation I have with people who want to be friends with me over there. They want to follow me online? How’s about calling me on the phone and chatting first? Hmm?
But that’s neither here nor there. The point is, if you are serious about getting those pages off Facebook then take yourself off of it first. You’re a product that FB sells to those advertisers. If you’re not there then you can’t be sold and then the ROI decreases substantially. All of those excuses you’ve given yourself about why you can’t possibly delete your account are bullshit. We all know it. How can you possibly think the advertisers will take your boycott threats seriously if you don’t boycott the one company that has the power to get rid of those pages? Shoot, I don’t take you seriously because of that and I’m just some chick on the internet.
Want to feel like you’re really getting your message across? Then do something serious. Remove your content and yourself from Facebook.
- Which is what Facebook sells to these advertisers, by the way. [↩]