Digital Life
Terri Coles
May 27, 2013

Pressuring Companies to Boycott Facebook Over Its Content Policies

There are some weird contradictions in Facebook’s rules for content and ads. Individuals and groups displaying photos of women breastfeeding have found themselves sanctioned for inappropriate content, and the same has happened with photos of mastectomies. Facebook also recently banned an ad that pointed to information reassuring women that an abortion or miscarriage wouldn’t up their risk of developing breast cancer. But it seems to be just fine with stuff like the photo above and other content glorifying or even promoting rape and violence against women.

Now a collective of activist groups is asking Facebook to stop treating non-violent images of women’s bodies as somehow more offensive than memes promoting sexual assault, and also asking companies that advertise on the social network to stop doing so until Facebook changes its policies.

Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and Soraya Chemaly released an open letter to Facebook last week:

It appears that Facebook considers violence against women to be less offensive than non-violent images of women’s bodies, and that the only acceptable representation of women’s nudity are those in which women appear as sex objects or the victims of abuse.  Your common practice of allowing this content by appending a [humor] disclaimer to said content literally treats violence targeting women as a joke.

It’s pretty crazy to us that Facebook has rightfully banned other hate speech, but allows pages like “This is why Indian girls are raped” and photos of bound women. (You can see some of what Women, Action & Media found here, but please heed our trigger warning.)

The campaign launched last week, and the hashtag #FBrape is being used on Twitter to spread the word. So far, web host West Host has said it’ll pull its ads from Facebook and other companies, including Dove, have said they’re examining their own policies about advertising on the site. Here’s hoping that some increased pressure will get Facebook on board as well.