Facebook has turned its censorship heat on female comedians and activists who are waging a war against sexual harassment and sexual predators online by referring to men as either “trash” or “scum”.
The social network says it considers female comedians responding to harassment they had received online a form of hate speech. Facebook’s policy bans offending users for a period of up to 30 days for a first-time hate speech offense.
Kayla Avery, a comedian in Boston, said she’s been banned close to 10 times by Facebook and is serving out the end of her third 30-day ban. “There was one guy who was threatening to find my house and beat me up. I got banned before I could even successfully report it.”
Who is protected from hate speech on Facebook, you would ask. ProPublica says: white men. “Facebook trains its censors to delete hate speech against “protected categories,” including white males, but to allow attacks on “subsets” such as female drivers and black children.”
When women realized that Facebook was censoring them for speaking out against online harassment, a private group of roughly 500 female comedians discussed the issue of “Facebook jailing” and staged a mass protest on November 24 by posting some iteration of “men are scum” to their Facebook timelines. Almost all were subsequently banned by Facebook.
Comedian Marcia Belsky, a vocal critic of Facebook, has publicly declared a ‘war on men’ who harass women online. Belsky believes Facebook’s hate speech policy is haphazard and it targets victims instead of perpetrators.
Avery holds far stronger views on Facebook’s hate speech crackdown. She has set up both a website and a Twitter handle for women to share the Facebook jailings online. “Facebook is scum and bans women & people of color to protect men,” reads the Twitter bio. Avery also alleges that Facebook is a white supremacist institution.
Using hate speech as an excuse to censor users online is becoming highly contested. Facebook and Twitter have come under criticism for stifling free speech.
— Kayla Avery (@averykayla) December 4, 2017