A Campaign to End Violence Against Women on Facebook Goes Viral

4 years ago

In case you missed it, last week a coalition of women’s groups posted an open letter to Facebook asking the company to stop the proliferation of content that promotes violence against women on its site and to consider it hate speech. Led by Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and writer Soraya Chemaly, the groups also urged companies to pull their advertising from the social media giant. To exert even more pressure, the letter asked users to “contact advertisers whose ads on Facebook appear next to content that targets women for violence."

So what effect did the campaign have? While more than a dozen companies agreed to pull their ads, some you might have expected to embrace the idea didn't sign on--at least not yet. As Rebecca Leber at ThinkProgress reports:

Many larger companies have been slower to respond, including two companies that market brands specifically to women. Dove, a Unilever brand that is running a “self-esteem” ad campaign for women, is facing pressure on Twitter, while Procter & Gamble’s response was, “We can’t control what content they [our advertising] pops up next to. Obviously it’s a shame that our ad happened to pop up next to it.

(Image: © Bryan Smith/ZUMAPRESS.com)
Update: A few minutes after I posted this, Facebook released the following announcement, and the news is good:

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. In some cases, content is not being removed as quickly as we want. In other cases, content that should be removed has not been or has been evaluated using outdated criteria. We have been working over the past several months to improve our systems to respond to reports of violations, but the guidelines used by these systems have failed to capture all the content that violates our standards. We need to do better – and we will.

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