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Violence against women: How did Facebook get it so wrong in condoning this campaign of violence?

Violence against women might seem like an unusual topic to follow on from last week’s theme of women on boards… however it’s important in the context of our attitudes towards women and authority.  So let me ask this: are you on Facebook?  Did you know that 60% of Facebook’s one billion users are women?  Do you remember the campaign last year for gender balance on the Facebook board – and the response by Zuckerman et al that suggested Facebook knows enough about women to ensure their interests are served.  Really?  Given this appalling campaign of violence that was allowed to continue unfettered after repeated requests by the victim of the online attack to shut it down… I just can’t believe that.

When I first read about this story on Mashable, I was gobsmacked firstly that someone would think to do this, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) that Facebook moderators would see nothing wrong in this targeted online campaign of terror.  The campaign against Thorlaug Agustsdottir – who had criticised a rape-humour page on Facebook – included posting a photoshopped image showing her bruised and battered with a caption written in Icelandic that read “Women are like grass, they need to be beaten/cut regularly.”

Surely, anyone would come to the immediately and simple conclusion that this is not ok. Anyone except Facebook moderators, it seems, who rejected four requests by Agustsdottir to delete the photo and shut down the Facebook group responsible for it.

When Agustsdottir reported the image to Facebook, she received four responses (yes, FOUR!!) saying that the image had not been deleted because it didn’t violate the company’s Statements of Rights and Responsibilities, not even the part where it states that users cannot “post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.”

It was only when news of her experience broke in mainstream media that Facebook finally shut down the campaign and issued an apology.

How on earth it should take a media campaign to point out the obviously appalling nature of activity on a public site that is used by a majority of women is really beyond me. 

So what do you think, does Facebook turn a blind eye to violence against women?  Don’t they realise the majority of their users are women?  Or are they too big to even care?


You can make up your own mind on this one.  I certainly have.



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