Facebook takes pro-rape pages down

After advertisers complain, that is, but more pages still remain
Kerry Butters

November 9, 2011

Facebook have finally caved in and taken down a number of pro-rape pages, following campaigns in the UK, Canada and New Zealand to have them removed.

We reported last month on the growing numbers adding their signatures to online petitions, after Facebook likened the pages to a ‘pub joke.’

This, according to campaigners, is “insulting every woman who has been raped or who has been threatened with rape.”

Whilst the campaign received little attention from the press in the first instance, once it began to be reported, it spread rapidly.

Following extensive press coverage, the social media giant eventually backed down a little and ‘whitelisted’ the pages, stripping them of their advertising.

Womens Views on News (WVoN), who began the campaigns, contacted advertisers whose ads appeared on the pages to draw attention to the ‘jokes’ being displayed alongside their ad.

This led to the story being picked up by Radio 1 Newsbeat, who subsequently persuaded advertisers such as John Lewis, Barclays, Heinz, O2 and Pepsico to demand their ads be removed.

A spokesperson for John Lewis said at the time that they have little control over where their ads appear on the social networking site as the ads target people using a range of factors.

“However, we take the issue of inappropriate content very seriously and have been reassured that this particular page no longer carries any advertising and we will continue to be in contact with Facebook to ensure this remains the case,” they added.

Heinz said that they had withdrawn all of their advertising, insisting that they “would not allow [their] advertising to appear alongside this sort of page.”

Whilst WVoN are delighted that Facebook has finally taken down the offending pages, the group say that this alone is not enough and they will continue to pressure for Facebook to “address the issues of other pages and posts that advocate sexual violence against women.”

Campaign organisers from across the globe have joined forces with WVoN to put together a list of demands for the social networking site to address.

This includes a demand for a formal statement from Facebook that it will “remove content that advocates rape”, update its terms to reflect a new stance and publicly state that “rape is never acceptable”.

Campaigners would also like the site to issue a public statement condemning its initial comparison of the pages to pub jokes, and work with experts in sexual violence to identify and take down offensive pages in the future.

Whilst the page which sparked the row in the first place has indeed been taken down, the BBC reports that a quick search will reveal many more which need addressing.

It seems that now Facebook has realised the potential cost in terms of advertisers leaving, they will eventually address the rest of them.

Certainly WVoN and the global campaign they have managed to stir isn’t going to rest until they have.


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