THE BLOG

Facebook's Woman Problem

01/07/2013 17:11 BST | Updated 31/08/2013 10:12 BST

In my 14 June article, 'Feminist Takeover of Bra-Busters,' Lili Fitna was granted admin privileges by the creator of a porn Facebook site and Fitna together with fellow radical feminists took over this website, kicked off the male administrator and installed a human rights website dedicated to women's rights and self-expression. More than take over a site dedicated to pornography, Bra-Busters put these men's misogynist attitudes towards women on display for the world to see. Framed in this way, Bra-Busters was revolutionary because it not only pirated a pornography site away from men, it showed the rather regressive representations of women heralded by some men today. This Facebook page had over 3.400 members and served as a peaceful space for women to talk openly about their experiences. Then on Friday 21 June, Facebook 'unpublished' the Bra-Busters page effectively taking it offline for 'violating Facebook's terms.'

Since the takeover of Bra-Busters, these feminists have received threats from trolls and what some call 'mantrums' whereby men would come onto the Facebook page to harass women and complain that 'their' porn was gone. In response a lengthy ban list was created by the administrators to keep these trolls off their page. Of the the men banned, one using the moniker of Redds Deville sent threats to the Bra-Busters administrators in the form of a bizarrely written manifesto (ie. 'We, the New People's Army Of California declare this page, & those who run it to be counter-revolutionary'). Another, Damion Kaos, made a twenty-minute video 'Burning the Bra-Busters' ranting about being banned from this site. (A word to these two: don't quit your day job!).

Then on on 19 June all the administrators were banned from Facebook for posting this image:

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These women had been told they had posted an image that violated community standards as it was considered 'hate speech.' Just prior to being banned there was a debate on the Bra-Busters page about this image being transphobic by a visitor who called these feminists TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). Certain trans activists claimed this image was transphobic despite that there was no mention of trans persons in this message of feminism. Diana, a trans woman who was part of Bra-Busters reported, 'Some people said that the image was transphobic. Personally, I didn't think the picture itself was, I interpreted it as more directed at male liberals and Men's Rights Activist. Under the picture though whoever Bra-Busters had shared the picture with had put in some text that said something to the effect of 'Men who call themselves women will never be women,' and that's what started the argument I think.' Several men rights activists (MRAs) also took issue about this image as excluding their presence despite the fact that there were male members of Bra-Busters. Then after the twelve-hour ban ended, the admins returned to Facebook and put this same image back. Lili Fitna, one of the Bra-Busters' admins told me, 'As soon as the ban ended, we re-uploaded the photo with an explanation of what had happened and it was shared 100 times in one day.' A day later their page was unpublished for 'pornography and sexual solicitation.' Bra-Busters has appealed this decision and their unpublished status has changed to 'appeals_nudity_page.'

This banning of the Bra-Busters' website calls into question the ethics of Facebook which has in recent weeks been under media scrutiny for what Women, Action & the Media describes as Facebook's 'procedures, terms and community guidelines that it interprets and enforces...in prejudicial ways that marginalize girls and women and contribute to violence against them.' One must ask that if a virtual poster highlighting feminist discourse is to be considered pornography as Facebook maintains, then why has Facebook left so many pornographic and rape sites up? In the past month many women from Bra-Busters have reported various websites which actually contain pornography and which egregiously violate Facebook's guidelines such as these sites all hosted on Facebook: Rated XXX, XXX Movies, Xxx video of hot models, Xxx (+18 Only), Dr. XXX, Xxx girls, Videos XXX en HD, XXX HoT SeXy GiRLS XXX, Xxx.video, [BDSM] NonCon-/Rape-Play, Bondage, Domanatrix, Sadism and Masochism, She wouldn't have sex with me so I raped her, Sluts from the area, Sluts and Strippers, BDSM Go Get My Rope, BDSM, Lo mas querido colegi.alas y se.xosas, and many more.

More troubling is Facebook's avoidance of child pornography which demonstrates the degree to which Facebook tacitly accepts the abuse and exploitation of women (and children) while behaving punitively in respect to feminist and women's websites. There is also a site called Spot Your Ex? which Fitna and other administrators have repeatedly reported to Facebook: 'We've reported it a lot and it doesn't get taken down. A woman came on there a few weeks ago and said she knew one of the girls who had been posted on the page, and that the girl was fourteen years old.' Nevertheless Facebook ignores these women's requests.

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And in the 'about' section for one Facebook page is a link to Teensex.com which shares free Teen Sex porn tube videos from its huge Teen Sex porn video library with over forty categories of sexual activities. Fitna tells me, 'Facebook does not consider this a porn page.' Facebook's response is to send out messages such as this one indicating that it finds no problem with these aforementioned websites.

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Since Bra-Busters was taken down, one of the administrators created a new site, BONE Busters, where, as Fitna tells me, 'Many trolls are bragging that they are reporting our page for porn.' Facebook has recently shut down other sites as well: Amazing Women had their site shut down for posting about the #FBrape campaign; Equality for Women repeatedly had posts removed ; and Femen has had its major accounts on Facebook suspended. Women in Action Media (WAM) has employed various campaigns to encourage Facebook to change its attitude but in the absence of any real change, WAM began working with advertisers encouraging them to pull their ads from Facebook. The egregious targeting of feminist sites by Facebook is incontrovertible as is Facebook's sexist approach to its female users. In recent months Facebook has removed photos of breast-feeding women, a woman's mammogram image and various sites for social and political empowerment, dialogue and organisation such as Bra-Busters while allowing for images of women who are beaten, raped, tortured as well as images of teens and children. Some of the women on Bra-Busters have suggested that all women make a mass exodus from Facebook in the absence of Facebook taking a more pro-active stand towards women's and human rights. Others, such as Rapebook are attempting to tackle misogyny from within Facebook stating: 'We simply ask that FB follow its own rules on hate speech. Nothing more.' In the absence of radical action by Facebook, we must all seriously question if our keeping in touch with friends and family (and loads of baby animal photos) is worth our passive support of this company's participation in the exploitation of women and children.

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