Facebook pages that are purportedly supporting rape are being targeted by several protesters who want the social networking site to shut the pages down.
“You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway” and “Raping your mates girlfriend to see if she can put up a fight” are just a few of the explicit pages that are outraging campaigners who are worried that violence against women will be encouraged through sites like these.
Citing Facebook’s own Terms of Service, which prohibits content that is “hateful, threatening” or contains “graphic or gratuitous violence,” petitioners are demanding action and accountability.
“Facebook could and should do more to stop [the pages] from popping up in the first place and to swiftly remove those that do exist,” a petition on change.org states. “Facebook needs to clarify that pages that encourage or condone rape ... are in violation of their existing standards.”
Despite pressure from the community and advertisers pulling out of their site, Facebook refuses to censor its pages.
In a statement obtained by the BBC, a spokesman said, “Groups or pages that express an opinion on a state, institution, or set of beliefs – even if that opinion is outrageous or offensive to some – do not by themselves violate our policies.”
“These online discussions are a reflection of those happening offline, where conversations happen freely in people’s homes, in cafes and on the telephone.”
Administrators of “You know she’s playing hard to get when your chasing her down an alleyway” in fact are justifying that the page was simply made as “a joke between...friends” and not as a page dedicated to support rape.
“You people think that this is about rape do not get this joke because they are small minded people. one again for those feminists...this group is not about rape! no were in this have I ever said one thing about rape. so please those feminist who have nothing better to do with there lives but to post anti rape photos on this groups wall...[expletive]!”
Several wall posts of the same nature repeat their message – that the page is all a joke. But many are unable to see it that way.
Michael O’Brien, a Canadian computer systems engineer who co-founded the “Rape Is No Joke” campaign, tracked the activity on several of the pages being attacked and contacted online participants, according to the Sunday Telegraph.
He discovered that international “cyber-anarchists” known as 4chan founded and administered several of the pages. The group, including a teenage boy in Britain and college students in Australia, advocates absolute online freedom, including the right to share pornography.
Since O’Brien began drawing a connection with the group to the pages, his own Rape Is No Joke website has been attacked by hackers, the Telegraph reported, and subject to much vicious onslaughts.
But despite the attacks, petitioners like O’Brien are pressing on and demanding that Facebook take action.
John Raines’ petition “Demand Facebook Remove Pages That Promote Sexual Violence” has received 180,875 signatures so far.
“Encouraging violence against women is NOT free speech, it is criminal incitement to felony mayhem. Allowing it is complicity in felony,” Rashid Patch commented on change.org. To him and several others, Facebook’s refusal to act against the crude pages on their site was equivalent to their acceptance of the act.
In a letter entitled “Dear Facebook: Rape Is No Joke,” Angi Becker Stevens wrote on Ms Magazine Blog, “It would be absurd, of course, to suggest that anyone goes out and commits assault as a direct reaction to a Facebok page. But in reducing sexual violence to nothing more than a joke, they reflect and perpetuate the idea that women are objects to be used for the sexual satisfaction of men. Countless seemingly small things work together to uphold that kind of pervasive misogyny.”
Stevens added, “It would be naïve to imagine that the removal of these pages will in and of itself end rape culture. But that doesn’t mean the appropriate response is to simply accept them.”
“Facebook is certainly not responsible for the prevalence of sexual assault in our society,” she concluded. “But those in a position of power at Facebook are responsible for the choice they make to either condone or condemn the use of sexual assault as humor. Silence, as the saying goes, is acceptance. And Facebook’s refusal to take sexual violence seriously is exactly the kind of complicit silence that rape culture thrives on.”
Regardless of the petitions and protests, Facebook maintains their silent position as the targeted pages receive more and more attention.
Administrators and users of the subjected rape pages, mostly young boys from Britain and Australia according to the Telegraph, continue to make light of the situation and defend themselves, even thanking people who were trying to get the group banned.
The page currently has 210,969 likes, with 5,904 people talking about the page.
“Yous are just promoting this group and getting it more likes,” a recent wall post on ‘alleyway’ states. “This group has not dne anything wrong according to the terms and conditions f facebook groups s if it does get taken it will result in court because it has done nothing wrong,” administrators affirmed.
“We didn’t specify why she was running down the street now did we? She could be running to get in her cab after staying at his place or she is about to miss the bus so she runs to get on it happens too be down a street. No where have we said ‘rape’ is acceptable at all.”
Though the creators are denying any tie with rape, the subject of rape is frequently spoken of and joked about in the comments. They also continue to publish lewd posts.
Whether or not Facebook will follow its own policies of maintaining a “safe” environment remains unclear. The one thing that it has made clear in their Terms of Service, however, is that there are no guarantees.
“We do our best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it.”