August 8th, 2013- Facebook and the National Network to End Domestic Violence announce a partnership and new safety guidelines they have established together to help protect victims and survivors of domestic violence and stalking, issuing the following statement:
“Privacy and safety go hand in hand for survivors. The most dangerous time for a victim of abuse is when they are preparing to leave or have left an abusive partner. It is critical that survivors have the information that they need to navigate their lives safely and, in today’s digital age, a significant part of our lives are online.
We believe that survivors have the right to experience and live online (and offline) safely. We sometimes hear that survivors should just“get offline” if they are concerned about an abuser finding them or contacting them. This is not a solution. Survivors shouldn’t have to live their lives avoiding every possible situation that the abusive person could misuse. They can’t control that person’s behavior and we should work to continuously hold abusers accountable for their actions. Abusers go to devastating lengths to isolate their victims from family and friends. It is vital that survivors are able to safely rebuild those important connections, using Facebook and other social networks. Telling a victim to go offline to be safe is not only unacceptable, it further isolates her from people who love her. Our role, as advocates, professionals, friends, and family, is to make sure that survivors know the options to maintain their safety. That’s the empowering strategy – helping survivors take back the control that abusers have tried to steal from their lives.”
While this is a bold and confident step in the right direction and a strong example of the appropriate response to domestic violence in both the public and private domain, millions of Facebook users are continuing to find graphic images and meme content making light of rape and violence against women in a humorous context on their homepages. Despite having effective procedures in place for flagging and reporting direct abuse and pornographic images among users (though hetero-normative soft porn continues to be shared, and informative nursing pages and groups have been removed from facebook) of the more than 40 images on this list, approximately half of them and are still circulating, although the other half have been removed.
When the following images have been reported, the reports are met with the following response: “The image will not be removed because it doesn’t violate Facebook’s Community Standard on graphic violence.”
(Language and graphic image disclaimer)
“Roofies: No response doesn’t necessarily mean no”-Alongside an image of an unconscious lying woman lying face down on the bathroom floor with her pants pulled down. Another meme: “1/3 of women are physically abused. 2/3 of men aren’t doing their jobs”-Alongside an image of a battered woman. Another image that is being circulated is “30% of women are killed by their husbands or boyfriends. 30% of women should have shut the f@#%(expletive) up”:
And another image still among the many currently being circulated is “It’s not RAPE. If she didn’t want to, she would have said something” alongside an image of a hogtied woman, gagged and bound.
These images and various other memes are still being circulated on Facebook. Facebook and other social media networks like twitter and instagram are passive platforms to perpetuate and condone misogyny and violence against women through allowing such content to be shared freely among their users. Facebook still has a long way to go in embracing policies that work to protect the rights of women.
Women, Action and the Media is leading the charge against this content being shared on social networking websites, and have claimed small victories through “Persuading advertisers to withdraw from Facebook down to the more than 57,000 tweets and over 4,900 emails sent highlighting the issue under the hashtag #FBrape” – Huffington Post, UK.
Some companies are pulling ads from Facebook until it adopts a zero tolerance policy for content condoning rape and violence against women.
What can you do to stop this content from circulating? Boycotting Facebook is not necessary. Report individual users who share content depicting images of violence against women for abuse. Facebook has procedural hoops Facebook abusers have to jump through before having access to their accounts after numerous reports of abuse. Report those who share this content. Every time.