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Facebook and Twitter Cracking Down on Sexist Hate Speech

Picture 8-8-2013

Recently, Facebook and Twitter alike have come under fire from certain activists and advertisers regarding hate speech, particularly that of a misogynistic nature. In May, after a weeklong campaign by a number of women’s groups who had organized themselves under the name ‘Women, Action & the Media,’ Facebook was the first to fall in line regarding a stronger effort being made against pages that made light of rape, violence, or other degradation against women.

Facebook was truly under pressure; fifteen major companies had dropped their advertising in response to Facebook’s negligence for allowing hateful images that gratuitously encouraged violence against women. It’s no surprise that Facebook stated that they were going to be cracking down on these sorts of images and pages, considering it would not only be the best thing to do from a moral standpoint, but also from a financial standpoint.

Similarly, Twitter came under fire in early August, particularly in regards to a number of threats that had been made against female journalists and female members of parliament in the United Kingdom. Twitter intends to add a ‘Report’ button – which is currently only available on the iOS Twitter app – to Android and Twitter.com next month, so that Twitter users can more easily report abusive behavior.

The addition of this ‘Report’ button is likely due to a prominent online petition that garnered more than 128,000 signatures regarding the addition of this feature. Considering some of the threats against these women were threats of rape or bomb threats, it’s vital that Twitter update its rules and interface to ensure that people can feel safe on their social network. Facebook and Twitter moving forward with these calls to action against misogynistic hate speech are certainly necessary, though it remains to be seen how effective the social networks’ efforts will be.

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