In response to the veritable tsunami of news surrounding allegations of sexual harassment, women have taken to Facebook to commiserate with their friends and voice their frustrations with the general male populace. Movements like #MeToo have inspired women to share their thoughts on the current state of gender relations and empowered them to speak out. But for many who’ve chosen Facebook as their platform of choice, a sarcastic comment or witty retort to a particularly hateful male troll has had an unexpected consequence: a temporary ban ranging in severity from one, to as many as 30 days.
Posts ranging from the banal, “all men are ugly” to the quippy “men ain’t shit” have been removed from women’s pages, and then followed up by some form of a ban imposed on their profiles. In response to the alarming trend, more than 500 women — many of them female comics — staged a protest on November 24, pledging to post some derivative of “men are scum” on their pages. Nearly every female participant was banned from Facebook.
According to a ProPublica investigation released in June, white men are classified by Facebook as a “protected group,” therefore any defamatory statements such as “men are scum” are considered by the platform to be in violation of community standards and subject to removal. A Facebook spokesperson later clarified that under the platform’s current moderation policy gender, religion, race, and sexual orientation are among those considered to be “protected categories.” But even with more than 7,000 site moderators, punishments can sometimes be handed out unequally.
The problem has become so prevalent that Boston comedian Kayla Avery — who is currently serving a 30-day ban imposed by Facebook (her 10th ban, according to her records) — created FacebookJailed.com, a website dedicated to allowing women to share stories of being punished by the world’s largest social network. Many of the women punished with Facebook banishments, having themselves been the subjects of vitriolic and violent messages, have found common ground on Avery’s in discussing what seems to be a blatant bias on the part of the social media giant toward men who post derogatory insults without fear of repercussion.
“Sharing anything is nerve-racking. It’s like, ‘What’s OK? What’s not OK? What’s going to cross the line this time?’” Avery explained. “It makes me feel crazy, like Facebook is gaslighting us. Facebook is absolutely silencing women.” While Facebook has stated that the site is dedicated to addressing any issues of harassment, they maintain that all posts found to violate community standards are removed.
Read the full story at The Daily Beast.