Facebook Has Been Banning Women Who Call White Men Trash
You have one. I have one. We all have one – a Facebook account, that is. And if you’ve ever said something “offensive,” then you’re familiar with that “We Removed Content You Posted” message that comes with the territory. In addition, the social media site might slap you with a ban that could last as long as 30 days.
But what is “offensive”? According to Facebook, saying things like “men are trash” falls into that category, especially if it’s in reference to white men who are protected from “hate speech” on their platform.
The Daily Beast reported that comedienne Marcia Belsky learned that the hard way when she wrote “all men are scum” on her friend’s page. It didn’t just come out of nowhere; she was responding to a post that her friend wrote and Belsky’s intention was to be sarcastic because she’s a comedian. But Facebook’s censors caught wind of the remark, dubbed it “offensive” and banned her from the site for 30 days.
What’s the logic there? Well, Facebook intends to prevent bullying and any violence that can spill over from the platform into real life, but this type of ban disproportionately affects women, especially those who are a part of the #MeToo Movement which allows women to call out those who have sexually harassed and/or assaulted them.
Imagine this: you were sexually harassed by Harvey Weinstein, and you responded to an article on Facebook about him by saying “all men are scum” with the hashtag #MeToo. According to Facebook’s hate speech algorithm, you are offending a protected group (white men), and not only that, your speech is considered hate speech.
“Women have posted things as bland as ‘men ain’t sh-t,’ ‘all men are ugly,’ and even ‘all men are allegedly ugly’ and had their posts removed,” Daily Beast reported.
Kayla Avery, another comedian told the outlet she’s been banned close to 10 times. Her offenses include writing “men continue to be the worst” after male trolls taunted her with sexist terms online and posting “men are trash.”
Facebook’s algorithm is moderated by human beings (7,000 to be exact), so real eyes and real brains are surveying comments, but it seems like they’re not considering context at all. Or something else is going on, misogyny perhaps?After noticing the ban trend, several female comedians tried posting “women are scum” on Facebook. They got their friends to flag the posts as “offensive” and absolutely nothing happened.
Walks like sexism. Talks like sexism. Quacks like sexism to me.
When Propublica dug deeper into Facebook’s surface-level algorithm earlier this year, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook said, “The policies do not always lead to perfect outcomes. That is the reality of having policies that apply to a global community where people around the world are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share.”
However, Danielle Citron, a law professor and expert on information privacy at the University of Maryland, said, Facebook’s approach will “…protect the people who least need it and take it away from those who really need it.”
And that’s exactly what’s happening.
Today, I woke up to find that the #MeToo Movement, a movement that began on social media, was named “Person of the Year” by Time magazine. If Facebook’s algorithm had the final word, they wouldn’t be. They would be on a list of people who spewed hate speech at white men who sexually harassed them.