I want to take a few moments to commend the people who created such a strong public outcry about the pro-rape pages on Facebook. As a direct result of their efforts and perseverance, these pages have finally been removed. If you haven’t heard about this then you can refer to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15641998 or http://www.change.org/petitions/demand-facebook-remove-pages-that-promote-sexual-violence or http://www.allfacebook.com/change-org-attacks-pro-rape-facebook-pages-2011-11 to catch up a bit.
Facebook ignored requests to remove the pages for months based on the reasoning that these pages were based on jokes rather than encouragement to rape or sexually assault women. Many people and advocates did not agree with this reason and believed that it was hateful and violent speech and therefore should be banned based on Facebook’s own Terms of Service. Rather than quitting after being constantly ignored by Facebook, a Change.org petition was created and over 180,000 signatures were obtained and a Twitter day of action was enacted on November 2.
The movement created within the social media world - Change.org, Twitter, and even Facebook itself - was picked up by many news sources. These pro-rape pages gained enough negative attention and public disapproval that major advertisers such as Sony, American Express, and Blackberry demanded that their ads be removed from these pages.
What is so inspiring is the persistence of these tens of thousands of people who were committed to removing these pages. They refused to listen to Facebook’s initial responses and demanded attention from a variety of different tactics. This dedication and perseverance speaks volumes about the progress that our society and culture has made in regards to rape culture and what is considered acceptable behavior. There is a difference between freedom of speech and hateful speech and many more people are recognizing language which is violent towards women is unacceptable and problematic within society at large. It is incredible that an online campaign was able to obtain and maintain such strong momentum and forced Facebook to listen and pull the content. If people had quietly fumed at Facebook or thought their individual thoughts did not matter then this outcome could not have been possible. It required for individuals to be outraged and then to band together across cities, states, and countries to create enough of an uprising against Facebook to be heard. Thank-you to the many people who participated, shared this information with friends, family, and acquaintances and created such a strong movement. Your voices matter and you made sure that they were heard. Congratulations.
It is stories like these that gives me and others hope that it is possible to change our culture and that there are numerous platforms on which to wage this fight. It is going to take the work of many people and this story shows that there countless people out there who would like to see a world free of sexual violence and the rape culture that currently exists.
I would love to hear your reactions to either the creation of the pages, Facebook’s actions, or the actions of people to remove these pages.
Written by: Stacey