Facebook blasted for refusal to remove rape joke pages
Women’s rights groups in Britain and the US have hit out at Facebook for refusing to take down pages that make light of rape and sexual assault.
Female activists have accused the social networking behemoth of promoting ‘rape culture’ for allowing pages which make fun of rape and sexual assault to exist on their website.
Pages such as "You know she's playing hard to get when your [sic] chasing her down an alley" have caused a stir amongst anti-rape groups and petitions urging their removal have attracted 3,600 signatures in the UK and over 175,000 on US website Change.org.
"This is hate speech," UK campaigner Jane Osmond told The Guardian.
"I find it very disturbing that Facebook don't appear to see the connection between pages such as this and the prevailing rape culture we have in our society."
Facebook has defended its stance on the issue, however, saying that the website is intended to be "a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views".
"Direct statements of hate against particular communities violate our statement of rights and responsibilities and are removed when reported to us," read a statement from Facebook.
"However, groups 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."
A further statement from Facebook likening the humour contained on the pages to a joke that "won't get you thrown out of your local pub" didn’t go down too well and Osmond feels that the lines between what speech is acceptable and unacceptable in society needs to be more clearly defined.
"Maybe as a society we need to progress the dialogue about what is freedom of speech and what responsibilities do we have to certain groups of people,” Osmond added.
“It almost has to reach a critical mass before there's a change. So, for instance, you cannot make racist comments now. I want to see the same thing about rape."