Facebook’s confusing community standards

Facebook is banning people – women mostly – for causing the word “dyke” to appear, while words like “cunt” and “whore” are of course sacrosanct. Perhaps you think Facebook is doing that only when “dyke” is being used as a pejorative? Ha no.

Lesbians are getting banned from Facebook in droves for posts that include the word “dyke.”

On Friday, in the days leading up to the annual Pride marches that take place in many North American cities, reports that lesbians were being banned from Facebook began to surface.

See the post for screenshots.

So, while the rash of bans over the weekend appeared to be targeted and connected to Pride, it’s not a new phenomenon. At Slate, Trish Bendix reported that Facebook removed a popular New York-based group called “Dyke Bar Takeover,” claiming the use of dyke in their name constituted “hate speech.” Even the term “lesbian” itself is not permitted on Facebook, as part of a username. Lisa A. Mallett and Liz Waterhouse report that posts arguing that lesbians are female have been removed by Facebook, as well.

Not allowed, huh? When the fact that lesbians are female is basic to the definition? Does Facebook disallow saying apples are fruit, spiders are arachnids, daffodils are flowers, cars are machines, cats are felines? I’m assuming a big no, here. So why would they remove a post saying lesbians are female?

The great irony in all of this is that Facebook refuses to take action against groups and individuals who post and share pornography or who engage in hate speech against feminists. I have personally reported dozens upon dozens of threats and hate speech directed at myself, other women, and posted on the Feminist Current Facebook page. The posts reported have included words like “cunt,” “whore,” and “bitch.” Many have paired the anti-feminist slur, “TERF,” with death threats. Not a single one of these incidents has ever qualified for any form of action, according to Facebook. Not once has Facebook removed the post in question or banned the user.

Meghan posts a few examples:

There are more. Facebook wrote back and said that’s very sad for you but we don’t care.

I am not alone in this. Many women report having experienced abuse or threats that Facebook has ignored, and having reported content including revenge porn, child exploitation, and other forms of sexual violence that did not go against the company’s “community standards.”

When asked about this lack of action on misogyny and male violence on their platform, Facebook will often claim dealing with the amount of flagged content is too challenging to get it right — employees must make decisions so quickly that errors are common. The company has also told users that reporting posts is the only way to deal with abusive content, that “every single report of abuse is read and acted upon by a human being,” and that Facebook does not scan for and remove content. Yet they managed to ban dozens of female users within a matter of days — most of whom are not public figures, do not necessarily have enormous followings, who clearly aren’t being reported through nefarious means, but are in fact being sought out by the company itself.

It’s beyond infuriating.

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