Over the weekend a campaign has gathered momentum to put pressure on Facebook to change its attitude to women and children. It has become increasingly obvious to many that their regulation, or not, of certain images hosted on its site is very uneven, leading many to assume that it is misogynistic as a corporation.
At first I was doubtful as to how this could be, how and why would a company be so seemingly dedicated to advocating violence towards women and children? How could they hope to get away with it? Last, by no means least, how had I not known any of this?
To answer the last question, it’s clearly because we chose our friends. I’m far from being a teen, so most of my friends are of a similar age to myself. I joined Facebook in order to see photos of a wedding I’d been to and have since used it to keep in contact with far-flung friends. While there has been the occasional posting or link containing views I’d disagree with no-one, so far, has liked or commented on one of the vile images that Facebook has been hosting, for which I’m very grateful. I’ve heard media reports of the bullying that can take place on Facebook, but again that has not reared it’s ugly head in my little, seemingly secure, part of Facebook.
So what has been happening?
I would like for everyone to read that blog post and be horrified, then take action of some kind – even if that action is simply not buying anything you see advertised on Facebook. Advertisers have been contacted and shown screen-shot captures of their ads ‘sponsoring’ the pages that these images are on. Some have taken immediate action and withdrawn their ads – well done Nationwide Building Society, amongst others.
Some are prevaricating and say that they are working with Facebook to try and solve this problem. Well, the problem with that is Facebook is being somewhat economical with the truth. If you follow https://twitter.com/EverydaySexism then you can see instances of Facebook claiming to have taken images down as soon as they are alerted, but screen-shot captures show that to be false, they clearly show images still present, with a Facebook statement underneath explaining why they don’t believe they break any rules.
Not only that, but some of those reporting the images to Facebook have said that their reporting records have disappeared, presumably deleted by Facebook to cover their tracks. At the same time images of women breastfeeding have been taken down immediately as being offensive. To leave any and all images up and not moderate at all would be bad enough, but by deleting some and not others Facebook has shown its inherent misogyny, so to claim to be able to work with them is just not believable and until Dove, amongst others, changes their stance on this I will not be buying any more of their products.
Some companies have, apparently simply said no to taking any action at all. Perhaps they believe their target audience is the one putting up and delighting in such images? Well, if that’s the case then they can take a running jump.
For a list of wins and updates see here;
So how did we get here? I honestly don’t know – I’m guessing it will be a long and complicated answer – but I think we should all be asking ourselves that. If we ask then we might start to get at the truth and then we can start to solve it. If we ask then we might be alert to things we might otherwise miss and stand up to them.
That is what I shall be doing. It may not be much but if we all do it then it will add up. There will be some who do more, and I am grateful to them. One day I may do more too, but I have battles of my own I am fighting and there are only so many hours in the day.