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Facebook to target gender and sexual discrimination groups

After communication from Women, Action and the Media, a women’s advocacy group, suggested that Facebook did very little to prevent gender and sexual discrimination on Facebook, despite having clear policies for clearing out racial or religiously motivated hate groups, the social network has announced its intention to step up its efforts.

WAM highlighted in its initial report, fan pages for “Raping your girlfriend” and “Fly kicking sl**s in the uterus,” as examples of bias in Facebook’s management. While it might remove hate speech groups, Facebook didn’t seem as vigilant when it came to these sorts of groups. In the wake of the communication, these fan pages have now been shut down.

WAM’s views on Facebook policy

It defended the slow response to these groups existing by saying in a safety post (via Ars Technica): “We work hard to remove hate speech quickly, however there are instances of offensive content, including distasteful humor, that are not hate speech according to our definition,” Facebook says. “In these cases, we work to apply fair, thoughtful, and scalable policies.”

Much of the furore surrounding these groups and pages however, comes down to the fact that some people would term them humorous, while others find them offensive. Facebook suggested that it was testing a feature that would allow groups termed “insensitive humour,” to remain online if they were twinned with a person’s identity – thereby removing some of the blame from Facebook for its existence.

In the future, Facebook pledged to renew training for its employees on what constitutes a hateful group.

KitGuru Says: I can understand this women’s group wanted equality online and those fan pages aren’t really something that would be tolerated in offline society. However, WAM needs to be careful treading into the realm of offensiveness with regards to humour, as nobody has the right not to be offended. Free speech trumps you getting your feelings hurt. Just don’t read it, or don’t listen if you don’t like it. If the intention is a joke, even if you don’t like it, the person saying it was trying to make you laugh. Failing, is not a crime.

What do you guys think of this? Does a group with a name that’s designed to be funny get a pass when it comes to hate speech?

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