(The Root) — Thousands of tweets and emails appear to have paid off for members of a coalition of women's organizations. Spearheaded by the Everyday Sexism Project; Women, Action, & the Media; and writer Soraya Chemaly, a campaign was launched to press Facebook to take a more proactive approach to dealing with shared content that they say promotes violence against women.
Among other things, the group alleged that Facebook was lax in the removal of offensive pictures and pages full of "jokes" about beating and raping women. Conversely, they charged, pictures of breast-cancer survivors and women breast-feeding their children were removed in excess and nearly instantaneously for violating Facebook's terms of service.
In an open letter to Facebook, the coalition called for the removal of what they deemed "gender-based hate speech" and for the training of Facebook moderators on both how to recognize hate speech and "how to understand how online harassment differently affects women and men." They didn't stop there; the group moved to hit Facebook in its pockets, tweeting advertisers and urging them to pull their ads — and their dollars — from the site, pending the removal of inflammatory, misogynist speech and images.
Advertisers began to respond, and now Facebook has released an official statement emphasizing its intolerance of hate speech and its commitment to making Facebook a welcoming place for all, and admitting that it dropped the ball. "Facebook's mission has always been to work hard to make our platform a safe and respectful place for sharing and connection," the statement reads. " … We realize that our defense of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as a license to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence."
In response, WAM released a statement recognizing Facebook's effort to resolve the situation.
Read more at the New York Times.
Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.