This Woman Is Calling Out Facebook's Shameful Double Standard on Sexual Harassment

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

If there's one thing users aren't allowed to post on Facebook, it's misogynistic images glorifying violence against women. 

Just kidding! Posting these types of photos won't actually get you banned — but apparently, reporting them will. 

On Monday, Australian journalist and feminist activist Clementine Ford ignited a conversation about Facebook's poorly enforced community standards, pointing out that while the social media platform regularly takes down photos that are deemed vulgar or sexually explicit, it regularly allows users to make light of violence against women. 

Noting she'd been placed on a 30-day Facebook ban "because [she] told a man to fuck off" after he called her a "diseased whore," Ford tweeted about her thwarted efforts to report an offensive meme making light of domestic violence. The image depicted a young woman with blood pouring down her face, along with the caption, "He told me to make him a sandwich... I should have listened." (Warning: The following image is extremely disturbing.) 

After Ford flagged the post for "annoying and distasteful humor," Facebook responded by saying that while it wanted to ensure that the website was a "safe and welcoming environment," the meme did not violate its community standards, and would therefore remain on the site. 

Other users who also reported the image were similarly told it did not violate Facebook's standards. Several went on to provide additional feedback, explaining the issue is indicative of a larger problem: persistent, sexist online harassment.

"Photo shows a female victim of violence and a misogynist 'joke,'" one user wrote. "This is not suggestive of Facebook being 'safe and welcoming for everyone.'" 

Unfortunately, this is farfar, far from the first time Facebook has been called out for what appears to be a selective application of its community standards. Last year, Facebook suspended Ford from the site after she reposted violent, sexist threats she received from other users, including a man asking for nudes and another user demanding that she "sit on a butcher's knife." 

Additionally, Facebook has been slammed for allowing users to circulate clips of beheadings and refusing to remove a graphic video of child abuse, claiming the distressing video could spread a positive message if shared "in the context of condemning it."

Facebook's relatively lax approach to violent content on the platform is particularly noteworthy given its harsh policies on nudity and sexually explicit content. Although it now allows moms to post photos of breastfeeding, Facebook still doesn't allow photos of women's nipples in other contexts. 

It seems, as Ford and others have pointed out, the social network is sending a pretty clear and "seriously fucked up" message about what is and is not acceptable imagery. Photos of partially nude women? Not OK. Women who have been physically wounded for failing to obey men? Well, that's just part of creating a safe and welcoming environment for everyone. 

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Jenny Kutner

Jenny Kutner is a senior reporter at Mic, covering feminism, reproductive justice and sexual violence. She is a native Texan based in New York. Send tips or friendly messages to jenny@mic.com.

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